On December 24th 2016, a woman went to the Medical Centre next to Mariner Apartments in Port Vila for a mandatory medical examination to confirm she was fit to work overseas. The follow up appointment was made with another doctor at the same facility whom she had previously seen on December 20th. This doctor asked her to wait in the reception area for Dr. Christopher Tarianga to perform an electrocardiogram (ECG), which is a test to check the heart for any abnormalities.
At approximately 11:00am, the woman who is in her 30s, entered the office of Dr. Tarianga, or Dr. Chris as he is more commonly known, where she alleges that he sexually assaulted her.
On Thursday 16th March 2017, Dr. Tarianga was arrested at the premises of Medical Centre and was later charged with two counts of 1) sexual intercourse without consent and 2) act of indecency without consent.
Dr. Tarianga was released on bail on Monday 20th March under the conditions that he is not to alter, amend or dispose of any medical records located in the Medical Centre, to refrain from any kind of contact either directly or indirectly with the complainant, and that he is to appear at the preliminary investigation on April 6th at 2pm.
Dr. Tarianga is denying the allegations. In an interview with Dr Jean Luc Bador regarding this case, it was admitted that at least three complaints have been made in the past regarding Dr. Tarianga’s inappropriate behavior. Although Dr. Tarianga was reprimanded for his behavior, the Medical Centre did not conduct any internal investigations or report the incidents to the police. This is the first time a formal complaint has been legally filed.
In the victim’s impact statement, she says, ‘It is very hard for me to explain what I am going through since Dr Chris abused me. It is a sad and frightening experience for me to think about what this doctor has done.
‘I am sad for his family. I am sad for any other patients that he may have abused. I am sad for Vanuatu that a doctor can abuse his position like this. I am very angry and never want to see his face again.’
She also states that he has ruined her dream to work overseas and that she is now scared of doctors. She lives in fear that she may get hurt for speaking out.
Dr. Tarianga is still continuing to practice at the Medical Centre since his release from bail.
If you or anyone you know has experienced a similar incident, please contact the police.
By Yasmine Bjornum
NOTE: The writer of this article has also filed a verbal complaint to the Medical Centre regarding Dr. Tarianga’s inapporiate behaviour in 2015.