Analysis

Step Down: Chairman Tells Mosese Bulitavu

He said by giving credence to the culture of bulubulu, Mr Bulitavu was not doing justice to all those other women who were forced to keep quiet after their families accepted the traditional apology.
08 Jul 2019 14:22
Step Down: Chairman Tells Mosese Bulitavu
SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu

Analysis:

Chairman of the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Justice Law and Human Rights has called on Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) MP Mosese Bulitavu to step down from the Committee.

Government Whip Alvick Maharaj, who heads the committee, said Mr Bulitavu’s comments on traditional pardon given through Bulubulu was disturbing given that the committee was currently working on the Sex Offenders Registration Bill.

He has called onto the main Opposition Party to do justice to the committee and nominate another MP to take Mr Bulitavu’s place.

“Honourable Bulitavu should do the honourable thing of stepping down from the committee as his post on social media and subsequent comments are totally against the principles of human rights.

“Currently we are in the process of scrutinising the Registration of Sex Offenders Bill, which is basically about safeguarding our mothers and sisters. While on one side we are working on a domestic bill to protect the right of Fijian women regardless of ethnicity, a member publicly pointing fingers at Fijian women of Indian descent and talking about the use of bulubulu custom to reconcile issues of rape or extramarital affairs in iTaukei community sends a very wrong signal.”

Mr Maharaj said he was aware of the rape and murder of young Mere Ailevu in Pacific Harbour and that many other women from the same community came up and talked about how they were also raped by the same perpetrator, but kept quiet after bulubulu or traditional apology was sought from the perpetrator.

He said by giving credence to the culture of bulubulu, Mr Bulitavu was not doing justice to all those other women who were forced to keep quiet after their families accepted the traditional apology.

Mr Maharaj said there were continuing discussions within the Committee and that perpetrators would not want to have their details forever kept in this register. He added that no right-thinking member of the committee or our community should say that the traditional apology meant everything was hunky dory.

Instead they should empower all women to speak up and not be weighed down by such apologies.

“I remember very well the Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho had also talked about how his own officers are trying to change the mind-set of our communities. This was soon after the murder of Mere became public knowledge. Even our police force is grappling with this and working hard to get perpetrators to face the law. We cannot have our elected MPs making light of such issues,” he said.

“We are living in a modern word where everyone’s right is protected, regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender.

“How can we justify forgiving a sex offender though the custom of bulubulu. The offenders should go through the court process and proper justice is served.

“It is a very sad day for the Justice Law and Human Rights Committee that one of our members has such a cheap thinking with regards to females in Fiji,” he said.

What had Mr Bulitavu said?

Mr Bulitavu had put up a post of his Facebook account saying that the iTaukei community learnt stabbing and killing of partners from the Indo-Fijian community.

When he was asked to explain that, he went on to say that it was common for married Indo-Fijian women in rural areas to have affairs.

He also said that the iTaukei community had the culture of bulubulu or traditional apology which sorted out issues within families.

While he initially stuck to his comments, he was directed by SODELPA President Ro Filipe Tuisawau to take down his post and apologise. Mr Bulitavu then co-signed a statement issued by Ro Filipe to that effect.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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