High Court Judge Stephen Pallaras says adults of communities in the country must have the courage and integrity to stand up and protect the young female population.
Judge Pallaras made this statement when he sentenced a 29 year old man in Court yesterday to 16 years in jail for raping his 18 year old sister-in-law.
Four adults were present when the prisoner began to accost the woman and it was obvious to all what he wanted from her and equally obvious that she wanted nothing to do with him.
One of the adult by-standers even described himself as a village elder with responsibility for caring for his wantoks.
But Judge Pallaras says it is beyond comprehension and the ultimate betrayal when he and the others including an adult woman who was meant to be a friend of the victim, stood by and watched what was happening in front of them without doing anything to help or protect the victim.
He says they are complicit in these terrible crimes not for what they did, but for what they failed to do.
The Judge says sadly this case demonstrates how alone the young women in our community are when they are preyed upon by sexual predators like the prisoner in full view of others and safe in the knowledge that they will not be challenged or interfered with by them.
Judge Pallaras says for the children of this community, particularly the female children, to have any hope of living a life free from the fear of molestation and abuse, the adults of the community have to stand up and be counted.