Women’s Rights Groups Stand in Solidarity against Violence
Women’s human rights organisations in Fiji are deeply concerned about the ongoing assault on women’s and girls’ bodies, with several rapes reported recently in the media. Fiji has very high rates of gender-based violence and sexual violence , which has been brought to national attention with the recent rape and killing of 14-year-old Mere Ailevu in Pacific Harbour.
Speaking as a collective, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and feminist allies Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality and FemLINKPACIFIC call for stronger national action to eradicate gender-based violence.
FemLINKPACIFIC’s Executive Producer Director Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls said there was a need for a more targeted approach to investing in the protection of children.
“We need to ensure all public spaces including beaches and the streets as well as evacuation centres are safe for all. If this means more police patrols and better lighting, so be it,” she said.
“We have to also better address the increase in sexual offences against young girls, as seen in the Fiji Police Force's data; resources must be spent in protecting our children in their homes and community,” she said.
DIVA for Equality Management Collective member Noelene Nabulivou said it was important to look at the root of the problem, which are the gendered hierarchies in our society.
“We need to promote a human-rights based approach to dealing with this issue. There needs to be a change in attitudes and behaviour from the community towards the deeply entrenched problem of gender-based violence,” she said.
Ms Nabulivou said while some cases are being reported in the media, many injustices and instances of gender-based violence, including violence against lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons remains invisible.
“We need to challenge this silence and support the most marginalised groups to be heard. The authorities also need to improve the availability of sex-disaggregated data on the full range of development issues, including violence, as well as facilitate the public’s access to this information.”
Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Executive Director Tara Chetty said it was important to empower young women and girls to be part of the call to action against gender-based violence.
“It is particularly important to recognise the leadership of young women and girls in tackling the violence and discrimination they face. Girls and young women are the experts on their own lives and must be heard as part of community, informal and formal decision-making structures,” she said.
“The media can also get involved by taking the portrayal of women and girls beyond victimhood, to amplifying their voices as leaders in our collective efforts to end gender-based violence.”
During the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence from 25 November to 10 December last year, young women and girls from FWRM’s Grow, Inspire, Relate, Lead, Succeed (GIRLS) and Emerging Leaders’ Forum (ELF) programmes produced digital media to advocate against gender-based violence while FemLINKPACIFIC’s community radio network continues to dedicate airtime to promote women’s human rights including during the 16 days campaign.
“Women and girls have been defining their peace and security and it is time they are heard.”
Chetty said raising awareness on gender-based violence, and how it links to other forms of discrimination against women and girls, was an essential start towards transforming attitudes.
“The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and our allies call on all sectors of society to join us in our ongoing work to end violence and discrimination against women and girls. The responsibility belongs to ALL of us to take action in our homes and communities.”
For further information contact Tara Chetty on +679 9268342 or
FemLINK Pacific contact: Sharon
Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality contact: Noelene Nabulivou