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Published: 10/9/2008

Abused Pitcairn women to be paid compensation

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WELLINGTON, New Zealand Great Britain will compensate more than two dozen women from its Pitcairn Island territory in the South Pacific for decades of sexual abuse carried out by male islanders, the governor there said Friday.

The islanders are descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers who seized their ship in 1789, and the Tahitians who settled with them. The mutineers landed on the remote island, burned the Bounty and sank it in the bay to evade the British Navy.

The islanders lived in isolation until an American trading ship arrived in 1808.

British Navy ships independently rediscovered Pitcairn Island in 1814.

The sex and abuse scandal drew international attention in 2004, tarnishing the reputation of the tiny island, home to fewer than 100 people.

Pitcairn Island Gov. George Fergusson, who is also Britain s High Commissioner to New Zealand, said Friday compensation for sexual abuse was appropriate and the British government so far had spoken to 26 women.

Mr. Fergusson told New Zealand s National Radio that it took a long time to work out how to award the money and he was unsure how long it would be before any payment was handed over.

Eight men were found guilty and a ninth pleaded guilty to rape and sexual assault charges after trials on the island in 2004 and in New Zealand in 2006. The men, including former Mayor Steve Christian, were convicted of raping mostly underage girls in a cycle of abuse that stretched over several decades.

Most of the women left the island to escape the abuse, long before it was revealed.

The British government earlier denied the women compensation from a program that provides up to $75,000 to individual rape victims saying it did not apply to the Pitcairn Island women, but it announced late Thursday the women were eligible for the money.

The women s New Zealand lawyer, Bruce Corkill, said the money would help shed light on the serious abuse the women had suffered.

They continue to suffer it it s a token, but it helps them move on, he told National Radio.



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