25 Nov 2014

American Samoa sexual abuse 'within families'

11:20 am on 25 November 2014

The American Samoa authorities say almost all sexual assaults and trafficking happens within families.

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Photo: wikipedia

The Deputy Attorney General, Mitzie Jessop, says the new human trafficking law is justified, despite criticism from the public defender, Douglas Fiaui, who says innocent people could get caught up in its net.

Mr Fiaui says the law could criminalise parents who force their children to do work.

But Mitzie Jessop says abuse mostly happens in the village or family.

"The majority of the sexual assaults that I see happening are not between strangers. We don't have stranger rapes here in the Territory. I have yet to prosecute even one - one case that involves a stranger raping a victim. The majority of these cases are within families, within villages, within neighbourhoods."

Mitzie Jessop says authorities cannot do their job until a case is reported to them.

Under the law, social workers, health and school officials are obligated to report suspected human trafficking cases.

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