Medical Services Pacific (MSP) is providing free medical care and counselling to survivors of sexual assault in Fiji through its walk-in clinic in Suva, and through mobile clinical outreach programs to rural and remote areas.
MSP works in partnership with the Sexual Offences Unit within the Fiji Police Force under a formal agreement to enable the swift referral of sexual assault clients to the MSP for clinical care. The majority of these clients are children (those under 18 years of age), with around 30% under 13 years of age.
“Survivors of sexual assault require specialised care and ongoing support services,” says MSP’s Executive Director, Ms Jennifer Poole, “and MSP is one of the few places in Fiji where children and families can access specialized care and support. Our clinic is located at 355 Waimanu Road Suva.
“Our child protection program is holistic and supports the survivor and their family as they work through the difficult process of recovery and justice. However, our capacity to provide specialized clinical services nationally is just limited by lack of funding for personnel, such as specialised medical staff.
“Priority attention and increased funding for child protection programs is desperately needed to ensure the high-quality care needed by survivors of sexual assault, and also for community education and awareness in preventing this kind of violence from ever occurring.”
MSP Counsellor Ashna Shaleen says: “It is heart-breaking to see children come through the doors of our clinic. It is so important that we provide the best care possible to help these children and their loved ones cope with the situation.
“But we must remember that sexual assault can affect anyone. It crosses all ages, races, cultures, socioeconomic and geographic barriers. It is vital that the people of Fiji are aware of the services available for sexual assault survivors and those at risk of gender based violence.”
To date, 79 survivors of sexual assault have been assisted by MSP under the MoA with Fiji Police Force since the agreement’s signing in November 2011, with another 30 survivors of sexual assault and gender based violence assisted who attended the clinic as walk-in clients while others are assisted and referred during mobile clinical outreach visits.
As at December 2013, 38% of sexual assault cases brought to MSP by the Fiji Police Force have been prosecuted.
“I am extremely proud of the work that MSP is doing to contribute to an increased % of sexual assault cases being prosecuted in Fiji,” says Ms Poole.
MSP works in partnership with several high-level organisations with the goal of ending violence against women and children and improving access to health care and information.
Contact: Yvette Tulloch, Communications Officer Medical Services Pacific
Email:firstname.lastname@example.org; Mobile: (679) 974 7996 Office: (679) 363 0108
Executive Director Medical Services Pacific, Ms Jennifer Poole, is available for comment or interview. Please contact Yvette Tulloch to arrange a suitable time.