Analysis | Politics

Candidates Express Strong Views On Abuse of Women And Children

Three candidates for SODELPA party leader have expressed strong views against domestic violence and sexual offences against women and children.
05 Sep 2020 08:49
Candidates Express Strong Views On Abuse of Women And Children
From left: SODELPA Former general secretary Pio Tabaiwalu, MP Viliame Gavoka and deputy Opposition Whip Aseri Radrodro.

Three candidates for SODELPA party leader have expressed strong views against domestic violence and sexual offences against women and children.

In an open and candid response on the issue, deputy Opposition Whip Aseri Radrodro, former general secretary Pio Tabaiwalu and MP Viliame Gavoka shared ways on how we can deal with the problem that has gripped the nation.

Statistics show that incidents of violence and abuse continue despite efforts to raise public awareness about the alarming increase in cases.

Two other aspiring candidates for party leader, incumbent Sitiveni Rabuka and former president Ro Filipe Tuisawau, have remained silent. They have not responded to an invitation to share their position on the first topic, Moral Integrity and now on Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Against Women and Children.

Next week’s topic No 3 is: What is SODELPA’s Greatest Challege and how can it overcome it?

Here’s Mr Radrodro’s, Mr Tabaiwalu’s and Mr Gavoka’s views on the Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Against Women in their own words:

ASERI RADRODRO:

“There are so many misconceptions about the role of women in our society, which I believe, contribute towards the high level of violence against women in Fiji.

“Coming from a predominantly patriarchal society, we men often hold the view that women’s traditional roles are to be submissive, caregivers and nurturers.

“We often disregard women’s true value and contribution to our lives as a family, as a community and in our nation.

“Conflict on the other hand is a part of life. For us men, we like to show we are strong and in control.

“However, we also have fragile egos, and on many instances, we do not like to admit that we also get hurt or disappointed, and instead of handling those issues appropriately, violence can become a spur of the moment decision, done without thinking.

“I acknowledge that violence against women creates so much hurt and agony. Over a decade ago, I had carried out an act of violence in a moment of extreme hurt, weakness and frustration.

“That day, I hurt so many people, especially my children who became victims of a broken home soon after. Many years later, I remain haunted and guilty of that moment of weakness, and no amount of apologies I know, can ever make up for the hurt I inflicted.

“But I will always pray and have faith in God that those I had hurt, will find it in their heart to forgive and release me.

“For me, having gone through that dark period of my life, I am today a staunch advocate for counselling and anger management when moments of disagreements arise.

“As a leader, I know that I will always face criticism about that part of my history.

“However, I like to hold dear what my icon the late Nelson Mandella once said and I repeat the same for my situation; ‘I never wanted to be regarded as an angel. I am an ordinary human being with weaknesses. Some of them fundamental, and I’ve made many mistakes in my life. I am not a Saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying’.

“The great thing about being human is the ability to learn from our mistakes and change for the better.

“For me, today when I see young couples arguing or I see a man lifting his hand against a woman, I always find myself intervening and guiding these young men to resolve their problems in an alternative manner.

“I believe as someone who was an aggressor once, I am in a position to enlighten others on the downside to violence against women. Simply put, violence against women robs both parties of your dignity to be human, to rationalise and to amicably communicate and resolve grievances. Violence is unacceptable and unbecoming.

“All stakeholders from families, schools, communities and Government have a mammoth responsibility to educate our young people, and members of our community on the importance of valuing and protecting our women, children and vulnerable communities from any acts of violence and discrimination.

“To address this problem, we need to conceptualise, understand and create awareness, on the negative impacts such violence leaves behind for the victims and all those exposed to its aftermath.

“On the rise of sexual abuse, this is an indication of the breakdown of our family values and our principles as a community. There are various reasons why they occur and they must be addressed holistically by all stakeholders from families to villages and communities, the church and government, and all related stakeholders.

“My views on sexual predators are that they need help, therefore our Corrections Centre must be a place of rehabilitation and not punishment only.

“In the event I were leading government, I would also review the penalties for this heinous crime to commensurate with the gravity of the emotional and physical pain inflicted.”

PIO TABAIWALU:

“The Minister for Women has recently been quoted that Fiji is facing an epidemic of domestic violence saying Fiji is facing an epidemic of violence against women and girls in both public and private spaces.

“It has one of the highest recorded rates of violence against women and girls globally, with almost two out of three (64 per cent) women experiencing some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

“The full extent of the problem could be quite alarming as many go unreported and remain behind closed doors.

“Domestic violence including sexual violence against women has resulted in a number of deaths, suicides, and mutilations, not to mention psychological scars that have destroyed the lives of many of our women and children in the country.

“Last year alone, 10 women in Fiji were killed by their intimate partners. There are international instruments that address the rights of women such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) there is the Vienna Declaration, and the Beijing Platform for Action. All these agreements recognised the elimination of all forms of violence against women.

“The real problem is national governments including ours have not implemented the full provisions of these agreements into our national laws. It is quite heartening to read the present government’s commitment that Fiji will develop a National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls. They better get on with it with some urgency.

“Raising women’s awareness of their rights is crucial in raising awareness against domestic violence. All levels of society, including Government, judiciary, the health profession, educational institutes, law enforcement agencies, religious organisations, non-government organisations, the media and at the community level must all recognise that all domestic violence is completely unacceptable. “

VILIAME GAVOKA:

“I enjoy watching people. Recently, I saw a young family walking on the sidewalk, with the father holding the hand of their three-year-old, the mother one step behind, and the two elder children perhaps seven and five walking in front-more like running and jumping as kids do.

“A happy family walking together, and very beautiful. And that is core; a country is only as strong as its family. The global community through the UN, is determined to protect families against violence and Fiji has enacted laws following global guidelines for this purpose.

“Within Fiji, we know the causes of violence and we must address them; poverty being one, and on which I have always advocated for a living wage.

“There is also the lack of education, one of the reasons I propose free education to university levels.

“And there is pornography; the curse making in-roads into families. The Opposition is opting for a total ban on all pornographic sites which Government says is impossible, but whichever way, we must combat it.

“Women are priceless in all communities in Fiji. For us iTaukeis the woman is the rock and cements relationships between the vanuas. And as Christians, we observe the fundamental truth that, ‘He who loves his wife, loves himself’; Ephesians 5:28.

We are a loving, caring people, we can eradicate violence within the families.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

Fijisun E-edition
Total Excellium
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper