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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

07 May 2024

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Fiji Women's Rights Movement

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FWRM Analysis finds that the GIRL Child continues to be the Overwhelming Majority of Victims/Survivors of Rape

2/02/2024

From 2016-2022, over the last 7 years, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement continues to record the youngest rape victim as being under the age of five years old in its annual Rape Case Analysis.

In the Analysis published today out of all rape cases decided in Fiji’s High Courts in 2023, 66% of victim/survivors were under the age of 18 years old. This is shocking and totally unacceptable. The girl child continues to face gender-based violence in the form of rape even today in this modern day and age with so much awareness on violence against women and girls.                    

“Why is rape still happening in Fiji?” asks the Executive Director of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Ms Nalini Singh. “Why have we not been able to abolish this heinous crime in our societies, in our workplaces and gatherings?” she asks.

Rape is a form of gender-based violence aimed at women and girls because of unequal power structures in society which devalue the lives of women and girls.

In FWRM’s yearly trends analyis, which is published today, FWRM finds that for 2023

-      the average sentence meted out for a rape perpetrator was more than 10 years, with the average age of the perpetrator being 38 years old. There were a lot of cases published online which did not record the perpetrators age as well (27 out of 96 cases).

-      66 % of the victim/survivors were under the age of 18 years old

-      The youngest victim was 2 years old at the time of offending

-      More than 60% of perpetrators were in a domestic relationship with the victim/survivor. (32% were previously known to the victim/survivor even though they were not in a domestic relationship). Only 6% of perpetrators were not related or previously known to the victim/survivor.

“This confirms that rape in Fiji is perpetuated by family, friends and workmates. People who we see and interact with on a regular basis are the ones who are harming our women and girls. Immediate action is needed to stop rape now”, says Ms Singh.

In addition to this FWRM has found there is a lack of information publicly available for all rape cases. Data such as age of perpetrator and victim, how many months are added and subtracted in sentencing and publication of judgements/sentences are not always publicly available. The State bears the duty of publishing cases, with appropriate mechanisms in place to protect identities, so that the public can access this information.

For organisations such as FWRM, it is crucial that we have access to relevant data, to provide a thorough gender analysis for rape cases. This helps us understand what some of the barriers to women’s access to justice are together with understanding why rape is a form of gender-based violence. Rape (and all forms of violence against women) is everyone’s business, and FWRM joins in solidarity with all organisations in calling out systems which further victimise victim/survivors of sexual violence.

FWRM positively notes that the practice of raising cultural reconciliation during rape trials have significantly decreased, with very few cases where this is raised by defence counsels. The Courts no longer accept this as a mitigating factor. FWRM also finds that there is hardly any forensic evidence produced in rape trials, thereby questioning the utility of intrusive procedures such as carrying out rape kits on victim/survivors.

The following were some key findings from the 2023 analysis:

From a total of 96 Rape Cases that were decided in the High Court of Fiji in 2023, which were published online on www.paclii.org it was found that:

  • In about 61% per cent of the cases, the perpetrator was in a domestic relationship with the victim or was related to her. (58 out of 96 cases)
  • In approximately 32 % of the cases the perpetrator was previously known to the victim (30 out of 96 cases)
  • Only about 6% of cases had the perpetrator previously not known or related to the victim (5 out of 96 cases). In one case (roughly 1%) it was unknown whether the perpetrator was related, in a domestic relationship or previously known to the victim/survivor.
  • Out of 58 cases where the perpetrator was known to the victim/survivor, DVRO was only issued for 23 cases (40%). 11 case sentences were not publicly available on www.paclii.org so we do not know if a DVRO was issued or not. There were some cases where the perpetrator was found not guilty.
  • The youngest victim was 2 years old
  • The youngest perpetrator was only 12 years old. 2 juveniles were given suspended sentences. For 27 cases the age of the perpetrator is not known.
  • Highest sentence delivered was for a period of 220 months or 18 years and 4 months. A total of 14 case sentences have not been published.
  • There were 16 acquittals, 7 rape cases were reduced from rape to lessor offence and sentenced accordingly.

We acknowledge the Courts Registry and the High Courts for their transparency in providing case judgments. In addition, the University of the South Pacific’s School of Law is also thanked for managing the online platform www.paclii.org which makes available case judgments used in this analysis.  

Ends

For media enquiries, contact FWRM Communications Officer Serelisoni Moceica on 8677330 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.