We must do more to protect our girls

Editorial

ALL law-abiding and right-thinking citizens will be appalled by the recent incidents of sexual attacks on young girls.
Society, we know, has no absolute control over the perverted nature of these individuals. But we can and must exercise greater control over the actions of these warped and sorry excuse for human beings who sexually abuse our children, often resulting in life-altering experiences and permanent and irreparable damage to them.
These deranged individuals never thought about if it was their sister or daughter on the receiving end. But it will be asking too much of these sick individuals.
Our only resort is the law. We must ensure the perpetrators of sexual assault of children are brought to justice and hope the courts will apply the most severe punishment allowed by law on them.
While their families come to terms with what happens and wait for justice for their loved ones, we all need to sit back and rethink where we are heading as a society.
It should not be accepted as the norm. It is not right. It must be abhorred in the strongest way.
Sad to see too that some of these sexual offences against children occur in their own family units. It is deplorable and cruel to say the least.
If nothing is done, the perpetrators will find themselves becoming victims of bush justice – beaten and tortured by community members and relatives.
It is a horrendous act on our vulnerable children that some time, one may to some extent able to understand why some relatives take the law into their own hands when they feel that the justice system has failed them.
In some cases, the perpetrators dash for freedom while at the hospital receiving treatment, are released on bail, or the police are unable to produce in court the evidence required to convict them.
Some offenders as a result walk out free or receive a penalty too lenient for the crime they commit.
Police in Manus say statistics show an increase in sexual offences in the province. From 2014 to July 2017, 142 cases were reported to the police. For sexual penetration and rape, there were 107 cases. There were seven reported incest cases and 28 for sexual touching. That’s Manus alone.
It is the responsibility of every citizen to protect the most vulnerable and defenceless among us especially children. Some of us are badly failing our duty on that front.
All of us are culpable to different degrees – from turning a blind eye to those heinous crimes, not speaking out against them or leaving the problem to be dealt with by parents, teachers, guardians, police, social workers or counsellors who are already overworked. We each have to do our bit.
A society that does not protect the vulnerable, the children, the aged, the handicapped and the poor is a failed one.
PNG may not be alone in the increasing cases of sexual abuse of minors. It is a worldwide problem. But this does not exonerate our lack of action.
Action has to start first with prevention. And in this regard shame and embarrassment are no longer effective sanctions.
We all have to be watchful, protective, and speak out about what we know or observe.
Those who remain silent and/or actively take part in covering sexual crimes should be treated are effectively, or they should regard themselves, as accessories to the crime.
The perpetrators must, after serving their prison sentences, be kept on a permanent watch list because too many of them revert to the practice.
The sick and deranged among us must be isolated and punished appropriately for the sake of our safety and sanity.

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