A taxi driver, 32 at the time of offending, was found guilty of sexual connection with a girl under the age of 16 by Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke in Samoa’s Supreme Court this week.
After a 2 day judge-only hearing, Justice Clarke found the taxi driver guilty of one count of sexual connection, when he had taken the 15 year old victim in his taxi to a deserted location where he sexually assaulted her.
The Court heard the testimony of the victim, who described the actions of the accused in detail, and said she was afraid and did scream but no one could hear her. She told the Court that the taxi driver then left her at the place of the crime, and a woman who had walked by later, helped her and they called her parents to come and get her.
Justice Leiataualesa ordered name suppression to protect the identify of the victim, and adjourned the matter to the 4th of August 2020 for sentencing.
The case was one of three relating to sexual violations, heard in the Supreme Court of Samoa last week. Along the corridors of the Supreme Court, Justice Mata presided over the alleged rape of another 15 year old who was in Court for the second case of rape towards her, and has been living with the Samoa Victim Support Group House of Hope since her first case, where her own adopted brother pleaded guilty to raping her. Although adjourned to next week, Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren was also due to hear an application by prosecution for a re-trial, in a rape case held two weeks ago, where the panel of assessors had found a father not guilty of the rape of his 14 year old daughter.
In September, the Court is set to hear a case for a father who pleaded not guilty to 79 counts of rape and 79 counts of incest towards his own daughter.
The prevalence of sexual violations towards women and girls in Samoa was further confirmed by the National Public Inquiry into Family Violence Report launched in September 2018 by the Office of the Ombudsman’s National Human Rights Institute.
The study which followed a year-long process of research, consultations, and submissions of information and evidence from members of the public who participated in their capacity as survivors, perpetrators, church ministers, matais, government officials and experts – stated that 20% or one in five women are raped by a non-family member, and an alarming 10% of respondents reported being raped by a family member in their lifetime. Also, 33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide and 13% actually attempt to take their own lives.
There are currently approximately 92,000 women and girls alive in Samoa today. If the prevalence of family violence uncovered by the Inquiry holds true:
18,400 will be raped by a family member; 8,832 will be raped by their husband or partner; 6,348 will consider suicide; 2,300 will attempt suicide.
Sexual violence towards young boys is also just as alarming, although reported less. Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson told National Inquiry researchers in 2018, “We have to listen to so much heartbreak. Stories that our community never gets to listen to. This is the room (his courtroom) you have a 10 year old girl telling me about being raped by her father. You will have a 6 year old boy telling us how his uncle sexually abused him. 6 years old! You will hear stories of incest where a father repeatedly commits sexual intercourse on his own biological daughter. There are three cases on today. All rape. In my courtroom it is the rape of a 14 year old niece by her 60 year old uncle. In the court next door it is rape by a 30 year old man on his 14 year old neighbour. In the court room next, it is the rape of a 17 year old boy by a 55 year old. This is our reality.”
Community Message: If you or someone you know is being abused sexually, physically or psychologically, please call the police domestic violence unit on 22222 or the Samoa Victim Support Group free-calling hotline on 800-7874. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call Faataua le Ola’s free-calling 24-hour hotline on 800-5433.