Jun 20, 2018 Last Updated 1:22 AM, Jun 20, 2018

By NETANI RIKA

CHURCHES have a duty to speak out against the widespread cases of sexual abuse against women and children in Fiji.

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong described the resurgence of sexual crimes in the past two years as a great sin.

“As Catholics and as Christians we must denounce this evil,” Chong told parishioners at Suva’s Sacred Heart Cathedral on International Women’s Day.

“Every day we read in the newspapers and hear on the radio of rape and the abuse of women and children. We must put an end to this injustice.”

Chong called on all Catholics to join the fight to end gender-based violence.

Tonight the spiritual head of Fiji’s 80,000 Catholics will join a march through the capital to show support for the victims of abuse and make a public stand against violence, rape and other crimes against women.

“Today we thank the Catholic Women’s League for the tremendous contribution its members make in the lives of our families and the church,” Chong said.

“At the same time we stand ready to defend their rights as equal members of society, created in God’s image.

“In all Fiji’s religions and cultures – iTaukei, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Indian, Rabi or Rotuman – there is a strong patriarchal value system in which men are considered superior.

“But the church teaches that men and women are equal and created to complement each other.”

Quoting High Court judge, Justice Salesi Temo, Chong said Fiji’s courts predominantly heard rape cases.

“There are more rape cases than murder, assault or any other crime,” Chong said.

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