Monday, 2 November 2009 12:26 PM

Women, Crime and Justice

I refer to Mr. Smith's assertion that Mr. Makabo and Mr. Rarumae should take their time to educate Mrs. Kauhue (and not Mrs. Kaueha) on the law.

I beg to defer from Mr. Smith's reasoning.

First, it is true that lawyers know the law but that does not mean that a lawyer must have that moral obligation to teach others about the law. For instance, an accountant does not have a moral obligation to teach Tom Dick and Harry about acounting skills so that when they sell their betel nuts at the stalls, at least they are aware of how to make profit. Neither do doctors have an obligation to tell the public how they prescribe medicines at certain times. In the same way, Mr. Rarumae and Mr. Makabo do not have a moral obligation to teach citizens including a Mrs. Kauhue about the law; even if they are lawyers. I understand that Mr. Rarumae is a private practitioner and to point out to Mrs. Kauhue the direction whereby she could get her facts straight and understand the reasons for the court's sentence so as to balance her critism of the judiciary is quite a token of kindness from Mr. Rarumae to share what he knows as a lawyer.

More so, even if the public has a right to know about the law and how the justice system works, it is rather a government obligation which is best advocated by appropriate government institutions. It is not proper to think that any and every lawyers have a moral obligation to teach citizens about the law.

Lawyers are just like doctors and accountants; they work for their bread and butter. If you want their advise on the law, you pay them. It follows that should the government be concerned for its citizens to know the law and how it works, employ a bunch of lawyers on some awareness programmes through appropriate ligitimate government institutions and they will work for their bread and butter making citizens to be aware of the law and how it works.

Secondly. I understand that Mrs. Kauhue is not an iliterate Solomon Islander and was the Secretary of the National Council of Women (NCW) and probably she is still on that job (stand to be corrected, not so sure).

Hence, the fact that Mrs. Kauhue is still ignorant of the law and the justice system and how it works; especially when it precisely concern women and girls as victims of sexual violence in court is quite alarming. This goes to show that Mrs. Kauhue was not sure what she was doing during her stint as the secretary (or if she is still on the job) to an organisation that supposed to advocate for the rights of women and girls. This is because, as an organisation and precisely a person in such a position, NCW and Mrs. Kauhue were expected to have taken steps not as iliterate village folks who just happen to want to know the law but as an organisation with a demarcated responsibilty and a literate person in authority whose obligation is to advocate women and girl's right to know the law and how the justice system works especially when it is precisely to do with such women and girl's right.

I believe, an organisation with a clear mission and committed individuals should not be barking up the wrong direction when it comes to precisely the kind of stuff for which they are established. For instance, should the NCW and Mrs. Kauhue wish to make sure that rapists get maximum punishment by the courts, they could discover that even rapists get discount sentences of some sorts. By discovering that, they would in turn discover that discounts are only given upon valid reasons and they would in turn come to realise that reasons for sentences are written in the judgements of the courts and not the newspapers.

I believe that, should we be adamant in advocating the rights of our women and girls, these are the kind of stuff that we be committed to find out and understand especially as an organisation or a well literate secretary to such an important organisation with a demarcated responsiblity. I also believe that there are existing government institutions whereby we can find out about those stuff and they are happy to help.

We don't have to wait for Mr. Rarumae to come back from Vila to teach us the law and the same goes to Mr. Makabo.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Johnson Tata Walahe and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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