24 August 2020, Mulinuu Apia. Translated from Samoan artcile by Marieta H Ilalio. A 72 year old man from a village in Savaii pleaded guilty before the Supreme Court of Samoa this morning to the rape of his step daughter.
The victim was under the age of 12 at the time of the offending and the Court has granted name suppression to protect her identity.
The elderly man pleaded guilty to one count of rape, while a charge of incest was dropped by the Courts on request of his defense counsel, Alex Su’a.
The defendant remains in police custody until he appears before Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese for sentencing on the 24th of September 2020.
Last week, another elderly man aged 82 pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge of a child under 12 years old, also believed to be related to the accused. That case is due to be sentenced on the 01st of September 2020, also by Chief Justice Satiu.
A 2018 National Inquiry Report into Family Violence by the Office of the Ombudsman in Samoa revealed that 10% of respondents reported having been raped by a family member in their lifetime. The same report highlights case study testimonies of victims and also notes that rape is grossly under-reported and young victims often know or live with their rapists.
At the Mulinuu courthouse, not a week goes by during Monday morning criminal mentions that a case of rape, sexual assault and indecent acts towards young women and girls is not heard.
Last Monday 17 August, over 10 cases relating to various matters of sexual assault towards young girls were heard before the Chief Justice during weekly criminal mentions of the Supreme Court.
It included two male teachers facing charges of rape and indecent acts towards a 17 year old high school student, and another man who appeared for rape and sexual connection with a child under 12 years.
There were a further three men who appeared for separate incidents of sexual violation towards young girls.
In a case from last week where defendant Peresi Paika had entered a plea of not guilty to three charges relating to sexual acts towards a young girl, the Court set a hearing date that is 8 months away, on the 12th of April 2021. In the meantime, the defendant remains on bail, and most victims are housed by the Samoa Victim Support Group’s Campus of Hope to await trial.
Community Notice: If you or someone you know is affected by domestic or sexual violence, please call the Samoa Police Service on 22222 or the SVSG Free Calling Hotline on 800-7874.