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FWCC Concerned by Welcome of Convicted Sex Offender

Fiji Times Monday May 12
Press Release

Fiji Women's Crisis Centre concerned by welcome of convicted sex offender

The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre is concerned and appalled by the welcome given to convicted sex offender, Epeli Ratabacaca, by his Church and its congregation on Sunday.

"The fact that this convicted sex offender has been welcomed back with open arms into the church and is allowed to preach is appalling and shows an absolute lack of sensitivity towards the victim of his assault, as well as to all women who experience sexual assaults" said Shamima Ali, the Coordinator of FWCC.

"Ratabacaca has not expressed any remorse" said Ali. "Instead, according to press reports of his sermon, he was urging the congregation to move on and not dwell in the past. What about the victim of his attack? Will she really be able to move on and not dwell in the past?

Does Ratabacaca not have any consideration for the impact of his actions on the woman he assaulted? "Ali added that sexual assault has many short and long term consequences for survivors. "Women and children who are sexually abused find it difficult to trust others, may find it difficult to form and maintain relationships, are exposed to STIs and may suffer emotional, mental and physical health problems" she said. "Unlike Mr Ratabacaca, victims of predators like Mr Ratabacaca are unable to simply move on. Mr Ratabacaca's reported comments are grossly insensitive and offensive."

"For Ratabacaca to try and use religion to urge people not to dwell on the past is highly improper and should be condemned by all right thinking people" Ali added. "The fact that the All Nations Christian Fellowship allows this man to preach again is simply astounding. Does this mean that the Church hierarchy condones his actions? What has the Church done to support Ratabacaca's victim, who was also a church member?"

"Any form of sexual assault is unacceptable and must be condemned" Ali said. "It is the survivors of these assaults who need our support.

Glamorising and promoting a sex offender in this manner is simply abhorrent. This type of support for sex offenders emboldens these men, and rape/sexual assault continues to be a huge problem in Fiji. The fact that this offender victimised a member of his congregation means that his return to the pulpit is even more concerning."


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