FWRM Calls for Stronger Engagement with Women’s Organisations to Address Violence against Women and Girls

18 May, 2016

There is never any justification or excuse for violence against women and girls, says the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement.

“It was disappointing to see the comments attributed to Speaker Dr Jiko Luveni in the Fiji Sun newspaper, suggesting that women aggravate or help cause the violence they experience,” said FWRM Executive Director, Tara Chetty.

“We know from research and experience that violence against women has a very different cause – the decisions and actions of the perpetrator, enabled by widespread and deeply entrenched discrimination against women.”

The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement calls on all duty bearers to speak out against violence without further marginalizing women and girls, particularly when addressing young people. In a recent survey conducted in the Asia Pacific region, 88% of young women felt that violence in the home was justified in some way.

“Young women and girls in Fiji experience terrible violence, from rape and beatings to sexual harassment. This is not ever their fault. We must make that clear to them and not reinforce negative stereotypes,” said Chetty.

“We also need to acknowledge the leadership of young women and girls in addressing violence. They are the experts on their own lives and experiences and we can learn a lot about how to tackle this serious national crisis from them.”

Violence against women and girls is at crisis levels in Fiji, with 64% of all women having experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetime (Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Somebody’s life, everybody’s business). This problem and the rates of violence in Fiji were discussed during a public debate last week, convened and chaired by the Speaker.

“These figures are alarming and demand total commitment from all stakeholders, particularly those in positions of power, to confront this issue and help eradicate VAW in the Pacific. FWRM welcomes the opportunity to work with Dr. Luveni in understanding the need for change within a policy and legislative framework, with harsher sentencing for perpetrators and an adequate support system for women and their families, ” Chetty said.