20 Dec 2010

Alarm at lenient sentence in Vanuatu child rape case

8:28 pm on 20 December 2010

A Pacific-wide network campaigning against violence against women is alarmed at the lenient sentence handed down in a child rape case in Vanuatu.

Supreme Court Judge Oliver Saksak gave a three year suspended sentence to a 30 year old man who pleaded guilty to the rape of a ten year old girl on the island of Epi.

The maximum jail term for unlawful sexual intercourse under the Penal Code in Vanuatu is fourteen years.

The Chair of the Pacific Network Against Violence Against Women, Shamima Ali, says the judge appears to have focussed on the perpetrator's leadership qualities while seemingly ignoring the crime that's been committed.

"We're thinking that we're making some progress and then something like this happens. It really puts back the work that we have done and it really makes us rethink what else do we need to do."

Shamima Ali says only ten percent of such crimes are reported in the Pacific and this case won't improve the situation.