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Brutal murder of teenage girl prompts vigil

Saturday 19 March 2016 | Published in Regional

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FIJI – In solidarity, they stood at the same spot a 14-year-old girl was brutally murdered last earlier this week, holding a vigil with a desperate message – “stop the violence against children”.

Only hours before, Fiji police had released the autopsy report of the teenage girl who was found dead at Loloma Beach at Pacific Harbour, saying it was a particularly “brutal murder”.

The usually quiet and peaceful community is shattered and shocked.

They lit candles, prayed and sang hymns and said they were making a stand that no child should experience such abuse.

“We feel it’s time to stand up and say enough. Child abuse in Fiji has to stop,” spokeswoman Harmony Thomas said.

She said news of the discovery of the girl’s murder shocked Pacific Harbour residents, prompting them to come together in unity in honour of the victim and her family – as well as to make a stand for increasing awareness that the abuse of children in Fiji must stop.

Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho at a press conference earlier this week said: “With post-mortem results that we now have at hand, we are now treating the case as one of a brutal murder in the case of a vulnerable and a defenceless 14-year-old.”

He confirmed they had a suspect in custody but were also questioning other people who might know or who could have been involved in the crime.

“I also plead with parents, religious and community leaders to be more responsible in looking after our children and young ladies,” he said.

Qiliho said they would also be looking at the angles of negligence of parental responsibility involved in the crime, so the investigations would not be limited in looking at the perpetrator of the crime – as they would also be looking at it holistically.

The girl was reported missing on Sunday and was found dead on Monday.

The Year Seven student of a school in Serua was reported missing at the Pacific Harbour Community Post by her mother.

Police spokesman Inspector Josaia Weicavu said a security officer found the girl’s body at Loloma Beach in Pacific Harbour on Tuesday afternoon.

Save the Children Fiji said it was a shame that there were people out there taking advantage of the situation of a young innocent child and causing her family and the nation’s grief.

Chief executive officer Iris Low-McKenzie said they had been appalled by the offensive abuses against the children of Fiji.

“These violations need to stop and we urge the authorities to take this matter very seriously,” Low-McKenzie said.

- Fiji Times