12 May 2016

Fiji's child abuse problem harder to tackle in squatter settlements

7:01 pm on 12 May 2016

A Fiji doctor says tackling the scourge of child abuse is most difficult with the broken families in the suburban squatter settlements.

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Photo: 123RF

Dr Reati Mataika said with one or both parents out working, young children were more vulnerable to predators - even from within the family unit.

She said the rural to urban drift, driven by unemployment, created communities that were disengaged from the traditional village structure, which was much easier to work through.

"But in the squatters it's sort of different because there's no clear structure of who's the leader and everything else so I think that's a big barrier to trying to get the information through to those sort of settlements but I know that they are trying to work through there by getting, from the outside, community health workers to come in."

Dr Reati Mataika said a hotline had been set up, and the country needed more child psychologists to help victims, but more work was also being done on education as a way to prevent abuse.

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