18 Apr 2011

American Samoa sexual assault victims encouraged to come forward

1:51 pm on 18 April 2011

There were eighteen sexual assault cases in American Samoa reported to the police last year but there are fears other cases are going unreported.

A Police Detective Siaosi Aiono of the Criminal Investigation Bureau says the cases involved victims who were 10 years old or younger.

He fears other incidents are happening, some within homes, that are not reported to authorities.

He is urging people not to be afraid to report cases of sexual assault.

But Assistant Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Folau says there are many reasons why sexual assault cases are not reported.

"The fear of bringing shame to the family, fear of not being believed, some victims fear retribution, since more often then not, the perpetrator is a family member. Other victims just do not want to relieve the traumatic experience. There is unfortunately a lot of victim blaming that goes on and so this affects a lot of the reasons why women do not report."

Assistant Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Folau.