Vanuatu Women’s Centre Director, Merilyn Tahi, has reacted positively to the increase of the penalty for unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl less than 13 years old from 14 years in prison to life imprisonment.

She says the laws may not be used often but definitely tougher laws are necessary as deterrence for crimes of incest, unlawful sexual intercourse and other forms of abuse against young girls especially by those under whose care they are placed.

While she welcomes the gazetting of the amendments, she says gazetting them is one thing but to actually implement them is something else.

She gives as an example the Family Protection Act which was gazetted in 2008, which criminalised domestic violence.

However she adds, “Since then not much has been done to prosecute offenders involved in crimes of the nature”.

Regarding sexual assaults, she says it is prevalent in the country committed primarily by fathers, grandfathers and men in general.

“We cannot only blame young men but older men too are involved in abuse, and we are receiving more reports on incest for example,” she says.

“Yes we welcome the gazetting of the amendments but we are also monitoring the laws to see if they are going to be implemented by the Government or the Justice Sector or not”. READ MORE