Sexual assaults on children is worrying

By The Editorial Board 07 December 2023, 10:00AM

There were close to 10 defendants in court this week who were mostly elderly men appearing to enter a plea to charges related to sexual violation where the victims have been young girls. Last month a sex offender was sentenced to six years in jail for sexual assaults on a seven-year-old girl who had to resettle overseas after the offending as a result of the trauma she suffered.

These are the type of incidents that makes the skin crawl to hear how low some people will go in the pursuit of their hellish and sickly desires where the innocent young children are the victims.

For the case last month, there were eight charges related to two incidents of sexual assault dating back to December 2021 up to January 2023 on the seven-year-old child.

No seven-year-old child is supposed to go through a traumatic ordeal such as this. The common factor in the sexual assault and rape cases is that the perpetrator is always related to the victim. The crime is premeditated and carried out when the victim is at the most vulnerable.

Senior Justice Vui Clarence Nelson when passing the sentence pointed out that the offending occurred in the victim’s home where she is entitled to feel safe and protected from this kind of behaviour.

“There is also the issue of the breach of trust in the Samoan context because the defendant is an older male living in the family and older males are generally required to protect the younger females of a family.”

There is a notion that harsher punishment could act as a deterrent to such heinous acts on women and children. The courts in Samoa agree to this and the bar must be lifted and a mandatory 10 year term should be set even with mitigation.

Last year Justice Neslon sentenced a 20-year-old man to 12 years in jail for the rape of an 11-year-old girl.

"These are obviously extremely serious offences, young man, and they carry a hefty penalty by law," Senior Justice Vui told the defendant.

Justice Nelson made it clear that the Court must hold people who commit this kind of offence on young girls accountable for their actions.

"… and the penalty must deter the offender from repeating this kind of conduct and send a message to other men and young males of Samoa of the consequences of this kind of behaviour," he added.

"I do not have to tell you that every young Samoan male knows his traditional duty is to protect his younger siblings in particular the females of the family from harm, this extends to the females of your extended families.

"Instead of this protection the defendant sought to prey on this young girl."

These offences are happening too frequently and in the sanctity of homes and villages where the innocent and young are to be protected. Instead their protectors have turned into the very monsters they need protection from.

The government as the legislators have a duty to put an end to this and one way to do it is to have a mandatory 10-year-jail term for sexual assault and at least 20 years for rape. The courts should not sentence anyone lower than this. Then perhaps the punishment could be a real deterrent to such crimes. Also people sentenced for such offences should not be entitled to discounts for good behaviour until 90 per cent of their incarceration period is over.

In 2020, the former Minister for Police, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt told the Samoa Observer, he was sickened by incidents of rape and sexual abuse against women and children. He said corporal punishment would serve as a deterrent and help address an increase of such cases.

Tialavea conceded it might infringe on the rights of perpetrators, but he said the rights of the victims should be considered paramount.

"It is heartbreaking to see children being violated by their own relatives and we have also seen church ministers involved in sex cases, this has to be addressed now," he said.

The minister pointed out that caning was allowed in Singapore, Malaysia and parts of Indonesia for certain crimes. That is a suggestion that should also be considered.

The number of children being abused in their homes is increasing. The number of children at the Campus of Hope is evident to that. Every year, the number of children at the Campus goes up. During the Torch of Peace march, a seven-year-old girl opened up about the sexual torture she was being subjected to at home and was removed and the police involved.

This behaviour is a rot to the Samoan society, as matai, politicians and parents, if the law can provide a solution, then use it.

By The Editorial Board 07 December 2023, 10:00AM
Samoa Observer

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