The British Government is expected to
announce later this week it will pay compensation to nine women who
were sexually abused as girls on Pitcairn Island and now mostly live
in New Zealand.
Meg Munn, the UK Foreign Minister responsible for the territory,
a volcanic peak in the Pacific 5310km north-east of Auckland, will
offer compensation to nine women who testified, the Sunday
Independent newspaper in London reported.
Compensation may also be available to another 17 women who gave
statements to police but declined to go to court, the newspaper
said. A police investigation took statements from 26 women made
statements, but most withdrew from the case because of pressure
from their families.
At trials on the remote island in 2004 and in New Zealand in
2006, eight Pitcairn men were convicted of raping and sexually
assaulting young girls, while a ninth man pleaded guilty. Six were
given prison sentences, and one is still in jail on Pitcairn.
British law provides for victims of sexual abuse to be paid
statutory damages under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
(CICS). The scheme does not apply to the overseas territories, and
the British Government initially refused to compensate the Pitcairn
They hired a New Zealand QC, Bruce Corkill, who first wrote to
representatives of New Zealand-based British Governor of Pitcairn,
George Fergusson, asking for a parallel compensation scheme be set
up for the island, and earlier this year, he threatened to launch a
class action lawsuit.
The women, aged from their mid-20s to late 50s, all live overseas
— in Britain, Australia or New Zealand — and include the woman who
as a 15-year-old schoolgirl first told a visiting English
policewoman, Gail Cox, that she had been raped by two brothers.
In 1950, a New Zealand teacher on the island told UK officials
that a 10-year-old girl had been raped so violently she had been
physically injured and another teacher reported on a spate of
schoolgirl pregnancies, fathered by grown men.
Detectives investigating her allegations uncovered systematic
child abuse dating back to the 1950s.
Britain spent nearly STG7 million ($NZ19.7 million) prosecuting
the men and has ploughed more than double that into the island since
the abuse came to light: the islanders now have satellite
television, an affordable telephone system, and sealed roads.