There is no excuse for violence


19 May, 2016
The Fiji Young Women’s Forum is deeply concerned by comments made by Dr Jiko Luveni, the Speaker of the Fijian Parliament.
In a news story in Wednesday’s Fiji Sun, Luveni was quoted as saying, “sometimes we women aggravate the situation; sometimes we know exactly what our husbands don’t like and then we do it. What do you expect?”
She has since defended her statement saying it was said in context to help women and protect them. She said “we need to change” and strengthen family relationships and children must be taught that violence was not acceptable and values should be instilled in them.
“There is no excuse for violence,” said Frances Tawake, FemLINKPACIFIC Young Women’s Leadership Team Leader. “We need to acknowledge that violence against women and girls in Fiji is at a dangerous high with 64% of women suffering physical and/or sexual violence by a husband or intimate partner in their lifetime and 24% who are suffering from physical or sexual partner violence according to ‘Somebody’s life, Everybody’s Business’.”
In addition, the study also found that young women under 25 are currently more at risk from experiencing intimate partner violence, and young men under 35 are more likely to perpetrate violence against their wives/partners. Furthermore, young women aged below 24 are significantly more likely to be living with partner violence now, compared with older women.
(Find the research here: http://pacificwomen.org/resources/national-research-on-womens-health-and-life-experiences-in-fiji-20102011/ )
“We cannot afford these kinds of public comments to set us back any further,” continued Tawake.
Emerging Leaders Forum Alumni Deputy Coordinator Maryann Lockington said Luveni’s comments marginalized young women and girls, who are also victims of violence and abuse.
“We need to make sure that young women are not only talked about when it comes to addressing these issues, but actively involved in the public debate – to stem the tide of intergenerational issues like the cycle of violence. It’s important to acknowledge and utilise young women’s expertise and their experiences in the fight against VAW and for gender equality, as was set out in our 2014 Fiji Young Women’s Forum Declaration.”

Diverse Voices and Action for Equality Member’s Collective feel that Luveni’s comments normalised violence and perpetuated harmful beliefs.
“Given her public position as well as following the Speaker’s Debate held on the 9th of May, it was clear that more progressive dialogue needs to be happening – whether it be the need for marital counselling, anger management or balancing power relations in relationships,” they said.
The FYWF commends the public, civil society and decision makers who have, since the statement on Tuesday, engaged with and responded to the issue. The Fiji Women’s Young Women’s Forum (FYWF) is co-convened by Diverse Voices and Action for Equality), Emerging Leaders Forum Alumni, and FemLINKPACIFIC Young Women’s Leadership Team.

The Forum is led by young women for young women and has brought together approximately 28 young women in 2013 from 8th-10th November, 24 young women from 14th-16th March 2014 and 50 young women from 27th-29th November 2014. Approximately 102 young women leaders and activists aged 18 – 35 years from Fiji discussed barriers and strategies to young women’s meaningful participation and representation in Fiji’s democratization process in 2014 elections and beyond in the 3 forums.