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EDITORIAL: Putting A Stop To Alcohol-fuelled Violence On Suva Streets

Alcohol-fuelled violence in public spaces is symptomatic of several things. Firstly, it’s indicative of changing value systems, in this case, within Suva’s populace. Drinking is a choice and the drunken
13 Apr 2015 23:37
EDITORIAL: Putting A Stop To Alcohol-fuelled Violence On Suva Streets

Alcohol-fuelled violence in public spaces is symptomatic of several things. Firstly, it’s indicative of changing value systems, in this case, within Suva’s populace. Drinking is a choice and the drunken young louts who embarrass themselves week in, week out, by brawling, vomiting or even sleeping half-naked in public spaces, do it by choice.

Let’s not patronise them with ‘victim of the system’ analyses that raise more questions than answers. These drunken louts need to take responsibility for their actions.
The skyrocketing price of alcohol has hardly been a deterrent for them.

In fact, judging by the frequency of these brawls in Suva during the weekend, it would be argued that the demand for alcohol has increased in tandem with the increase in alcohol prices.
A simplistic solution would be to review the operating hours of night spots. Sure, the access to alcohol until the early hours of the morning is something to look into. However, if longer hours are supposed to be the main reason for the increased drunken behaviour of Suva youth, why don’t other urban areas particularly, Nadi and Lautoka suffer the same problem with drunkenness in public places?
The irony is, longer operating hours for nightclubs and bars were supposed to stamp out the illicit trade of alcohol, after hours, via black markets. Serious questions now have to be asked of the police as to their vigilance in dealing with these black markets. One businessman blamed yesterday’s morning brawl on alcohol purchased from a black market. While the presence of police and their quick action in dealing with the drunken louts was commendable, they still need to account for these black markets, now operating with a sense of impunity. The Government has an interest in clamping down on these black markets because it means recouping lost revenue from taxes.
Is a there a correlation between urban population density and the rates of alcoholism? Are support structures, family, vanua, church and faith-based organisations and community groups, stronger in the Western Division and possibly the Northern Division as well?
What should begin to worry everyone, is the amount of violence, now associated with drinking. Last Saturday, friends and family of former journalist Losana McGowan, laid her to rest. A victim of alleged alcohol-fuelled domestic violence, her legacy in death will be greater than her personality in life.
Without meaning to, she could become the poster girl, for dealing with violence against women.
It should also be clarified that domestic violence also happens in alcohol-free settings, particularly in religious contexts. In both cases, individuals and authorities have an obligation to implement zero-tolerance policies against violence.
Alcohol-fuelled violence on the streets of Suva is everyone’s problem. The business community need to protect their shops, families need to counsel members who divert much-needed finances into their drunken escapades. Faith-based organisations and civil society need to engage these young people, potential leaders and law-abiding citizens.
It is Suva’s shame. We make no apologies for highlighting the issue as such. But where there is shame, there is also redemption. We now need to redeem these young people, for the good of Suva city, and the nation.

Feedback: josuat@fijisun.com.fj




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