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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

03 April 2023

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Fiji Women's Rights Movement

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FWRM Disturbed at Incidences of Sentence Reduction  For Serial Rapists 

FWRM Disturbed at Incidences of Sentence Reduction For Serial Rapists

3/04/2023

Marking Women’s Month which ended last week, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) in its annual rape case analysis has found that out of the total 108 cases that were finalized in the Fiji High Courts last year, a discount was given by the courts for being a “first offender” in 2 out of 3 cases where the perpetrator committed multiple offending.

Whilst there has been progress made in the past in excluding personal circumstances of an accused person, the first offender discount is still very much applied whilst sentencing. By definition, a serial rapist is someone who repeatedly rapes over a period of time.

"FWRM is of the view that for gendered crimes such as sexual violence (in the form of rape) towards female victims, there needs to be stricter safeguards by the formal criminal justice system in sending a strong message to the community. The message should be - no discount for multiple offending," FWRM Executive Director, Nalini Singh said.

She added that if a perpetrator has violated a victim/survivor on multiple occasions then the “first offender” discount amounts to discrimination as it reinforces patriarchal notions of sexual offending whereby a woman’s body is objectified and violated in horrific ways.

"Global best practices are now moving away from giving discounts to serial offenders including rapists and Fiji should work towards the same,” Ms Singh said.

The rape case analysis also concluded that the average age of the survivor/victim is 14 years old, and the average age of the perpetrator is 41 years old.

"In 70 percent of the cases, the victim/survivor knew the accused. The youngest victim was only two years old and the youngest perpetrator, 17 years old. A Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) was issued for only 32% of all the rape cases heard in court. These disturbing findings shows theworsening situation for sexual violence in Fiji," Ms Singh said.

According to the annual statistics from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, for the year 2022 there were 322 people charged with a total of 768 counts of serious sexual offences as of 31 December 2022There were 300 victims of whom 188 victims were under the age of 18

years. Of the 300 victims, 283 were female and 17 were male victims. There were 147 offences that occurred in domestic relationships or where the accused was known to the victims. The youngest accused person was a 12-year-old boy while the youngest victim was a 3-year-old girl.

“With 94% of victims of serious sexual crimes being women and girls, there is no doubt that sexual crimes are gendered in its offending, and therefore we can assuredly say that sexual crimes in Fiji are a form of gender-based violence. We need continuous gender sensitisation training to challenge harmful behaviour against women and girls,” Ms Singh said.

As the country moves towards recognising the ways in which gender discrimination and violence is perpetuated, we also need to be looking at ways in which access to justice can be better improved for women and girls who use the services of formal justice sector agencies.

The paper is a continuation of the annual rape cases analysis undertaken by FWRM since 2016 as part of our ongoing research and advocacy on strengthening Fijian’s women’s access to justice.

We acknowledge the Courts Registry and the High Courts for their transparency in providing case judgments. We also thank the University of the South Pacific’s School of Law for managing the online platform www.paclii.org which contains case judgments used in this analysis.  

Ends..                           

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

The FWRM Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls Rape Case Analysis 2022 here: https://www.fwrm.org.fj/images/Sexual_Violence_Against_Women_and_Girls_Rape_Case_Analysis_2022.pdf