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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

31 October 2019

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Fiji Women's Rights Movement

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Joint PR: Women’s Rights Groups Stand in Solidarity against Violence and Call Out the Double Standards Displayed for a Convicted Rapist 31/10/19

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Women’s Rights Groups Stand in Solidarity against Violence and Call Out the Double Standards Displayed for a Convicted Rapist

31/10/2019

There must be no impunity for rapists!

Women’s human rights groups in Fiji are deeply disappointed and appalled that the Fiji Corrections Service allowed convicted rapist, Amenoni Nasilasila to participate in rugby activities immediately after his sentencing.

Fiji Women's Crisis Centre Coordinator Shamima Ali said these actions send a dangerous message to the public that perpetrators of sexual violence will not be held to account, especially when they have national sporting achievements.

“No one is above the law. Rugby and sporting achievements should not ever be valued over the lives and bodies of women and girls. This is inhumane and ignores the reality of victims and survivors of sexual violence and the life-long trauma they face,” said Ms Ali.

“It has only been five days since the announcement of his sentencing yet he continues to receive media coverage as a rugby hero undergoing rehabilitation. It's saddening to see the hateful commentary against the victim of rape, while the perpetrator is being allowed to visit rugby teams and pose with fans for pictures," she said.

The collective demands clarification from the Fiji Corrections Services on why Nasilasila was being allowed these privileges which are not in line with the Rehabilitation Policy. According to the policy, all sexual offenders are to be allocated to the Maximum Correction Centre to undergo treatment programmes. 

"He has not even started serving his sentence, it is horrific for the victim/survivor and any victims in this country, who have or have not reported their issues, to see a perpetrator being praised for his help in sports. We’ve continued to reiterate this time and time again. Sexual violence is prevalent in Fiji. We can have progressive laws in place but the change that must happen is our attitudes,” said FWRM Executive Director Nalini Singh.

 DIVA for Equality's outgoing Political Advisor Noelene Nabulivou said it was important to look at the root of the problem, which is 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.

femLINKPacific Executive Producer Director Susan Grey also emphasised the importance of the role of media in providing a voice for women.

“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. It's everyone's responsibility to speak up against all forms of discrimination and violence and women's voices, as experts on their own issues and experiences are vital towards promoting gender equality,” she said.

The collective strongly states the need to challenge this silence and support the most marginalised groups to be heard.  Women’s human rights organisations continue to hold gender awareness and gender based violence workshops/trainings however it is imperative as a society, particularly for boys and men to understand they have no authority on women’s bodies. Families, sports academies, faith based organisations, communities and schools have a critical responsibility to challenge the regressive attitudes towards sexual violence and rape culture in Fiji.  The importance of consent in a relationship needs to be respected and the public needs to contest their gender biasness and recognise gender based violence is always about power and control.

The Fiji women’s rights organisations will be meeting with our leaders in government to discuss our concerns. And we 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.

ENDS

For more information contact Maryann Lockington on 8683183 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.