The rape and killing of an innocent seven-year-old girl is sickening, and should be a wake-up call to all of us. Something is seriously wrong.
If this case does not change the way we deal with rapists than nothing will. Our laws are soft on rapists, and does not act as a disincentive to those depraved enough to engage in such act. It is such a heartbreaking situation, an innocent life with so much to look forward to, taken away by an act of pure evil.
We should not just condemn such actions on social media, we should be taking a stance and pushing for change – whether it be through our elected representatives, communities, enforcement agencies, or just an open and frank public discussion.
Ideally, we should be starting with our lawmakers, perhaps through a private members motion in Parliament so this issue can be discussed at the highest level. Or, better still, establish a special select committee with a clear mandate and terms of reference to address this issue.
Churches, women’s organizations, the media and our communities also need to band together and organize public forums, invite those in the know, legal and medical experts – let us find a way. Bottom line is we need stronger laws and protection for our girls and children.
While the circumstances of every case will vary, what we currently have ranges from 5 to 15 years imprisonment if the victim is a child - this is clearly not enough. Also, what seems strange is that in relation to the abuse of a child, the only time someone will get the maximum life sentence is if the sexual abuse of the child was persistent – meaning an act that constitutes a sexual offence on 3 or more occasion. 3 or more occasion! How can this be good law making?
Reported rapes in the country of young girls and children have increased drastically over the years. Recent case files show that close to 85% of sexually abused children are between 10 and 18 years old, with close to 15% less than 6 years old.
Plan International, in a recent study, revealed that 93% of girls in Solomon Islands, particularly Honiara, feel unsafe in public spaces and on public transports. Being raped is one of the top five perceived risks raised by those interviewed, a sad situation for our girls.
We have been able to champion and effect legislative and policy change on issues such as domestic violence, it is about time we push for a serious discussion on what we can do better to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
Our homes and communities should always be a safe haven for our girls and children, anything less is a failure on our part – and everybody should be blamed.
We must all advocate for a new law, Mary’s law, one that does more to protect our girls and children - and punish perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.
Article updated 1.50pm to remove picture.