ABOUT 60 per cent of the prison population in Vanuatu are some form of sexual offenders, a survey has found.
Correctional Services Director Johnny Marango told The Independent Online that the figure has risen from 56 per cent from the last survey.
He said the figures are alarming and he called on the government to find ways to deal with the growing increase in sex related crimes in the country.
“We are doing all we can in our system and we have a number or programs such as anger management and dealing with alcohol and drug problems, but I have a goal to see many more empty cells in our jails,’’ he said.
Mr Marango said the sexual offenders ranged in age from 11 years to 72, but 42 per cent were under 25 years old.
The survey showed that 90 per cent of the victims knew their attackers and more than 60 per cent were family members or lived under the same roof.
More than 60 per cent of the sexual assaults occurred in rural areas, compared to 36 per cent in a 2008 survey.
Mr Marango said this could be due to more women reporting sexual assaults in general than in previous years because of more awareness of their rights.
He said despite what the public may think, 88 per cent of the offenders surveyed said neither drugs nor alcohol were involved in their crimes.
For the past three years The Independent has waged a relentless campaign relating to light sentencing of sexual offenders, particularly in rape and incest cases.
In a published survey last year, the Independent found that the average sentence for rape and incest was only 2.2 years.
The government has since beefed up the sentences for these specific crimes to include life imprisonment.
The Independent Online will continue to pursue this cause and monitor future sentencing in these types of cases.