Let’s Act Now To Stop Violence, Abuse Against Our Women
International Women’s Day calls on all of us to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world.
Last year the Pledge For Parity campaign called on people to take groundbreaking action that helps women achieve their ambitions. It also called for gender balanced leadership and policies that valued men’s and women’s contribution equally and guarded against any element of bias.
This year the Be Bold For Change requires everyone to join forces and become a leader within our spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.
The good news is there is evidence this is happening. Yesterday on the cover of the Fiji Sun, there was a picture of nine women holding their own in the corporate world which, not long ago, was the exclusive domain of men.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his FijiFirst Government have led the charge in encouraging more women to step forward and take up the challenge. We need to bridge the gender gap and bring out the best that our women can offer.
In areas that they have served, women have generally done an excellent job. An increasing number of workplaces now recognise the value of our women and have appointed them to strategic positions. They do it with faith and confidence in the ability and capacity of the women to succeed.
The question of equality should extend from workplaces to other spheres of national life. In the home and cultural settings, many women are still subservient to the men. Worst still, some continue to suffer in silence from physical and verbal abuse.
Although the Ministry of Women has been campaigning hard against violence against women, the number of cases that still come before the courts is unacceptably high.
At Naqali Village in Naitasiri yesterday, women cried openly when they heard a Police officer explain in graphic details some of the worst cases of rape they had investigated. They heard that the youngest victim was four-months-old and the oldest was 80 plus. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we must never forget that violence and sexual abuse against our women continue unabated.
The Reclaim the Night march last night highlighted this problem and it requires a national resolve to put an end to this crisis.
How many times have we heard our Prime Minister talk about it? He has strongly condemned the abuse of our women and has labelled the perpetrators cowards. This is not Government’s problem alone. It is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders.
Rape is the end product of a series of relationship problems within families.
Take for example the man who went home after a kava session and wanted to sleep with his wife. The Police officer said she was busy washing their clothes. The man went inside the house and allegedly tried to rape their four-month-old baby boy.
Then there was this man who allegedly raped an 80-year-old plus woman. Another disturbing case involved a teenage boy who allegedly raped a 60-year-old plus woman.
These cases and others reflect a serious moral decline in our society. That problem needs to be identified, recognised and addressed so that we can tackle its roots.
We must focus on fixing the causes of the problem if we want to contain it and eventually eliminate it. It requires the collaborative efforts of all the stakeholders, the family, parents/guardians, community leaders, faith groups, schools, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) Police and Government agencies.
We cannot leave this to just some stakeholders. We need everyone’s input.It is time to act before the situation gets worse.