PM In Pain Over Statistics

One woman who experiences violence is one too many, Mr Bainimarama adds.
26 Nov 2020 11:45
PM In Pain Over Statistics
Minister for Women Meresaini Vuniwaqa and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and other guests during the launching of the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Consultations at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on November 25, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Ten women were killed by their partners last year in domestic-related violence and abuse.

The revelation was made by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday while launching the start of the consultations for Fiji’s National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and Children.

Mr Bainimarama said it pained him to learn that two in every three Fijian women experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate male partner in their lifetime.

One in five women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace while one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence from a man who isn’t their partner, a recent survey by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre indicated.

Mr Bainimarama said although eliminating violence against women and girls would not be easy because of its prevalence in the Fijian society and deep roots, Fiji was not constrained by history and we must purge its ugliness from our past.

“One woman who experiences violence is one too many. One child who experiences or witnesses violence is one too many. One person who thinks it is okay to assault a woman is one too many. One witness who turns a blind eye to such violence is one too many. One woman turned away when she asks for help is one too many. And one man who assaults a woman or a child and is not held accountable and punished according to law for his crimes is one too many,” he said.

Adding that the era of seeing qualified and ambitious women working behind the scenes while less qualified men take the charge because of gender must end.

In Fiji today, 92 per cent of girls complete their secondary school education making women the majority of graduates in tertiary institutions.

These new generation of empowered and well-educated women, Mr Bainimarama said deserved to rise as far as their abilities could take them.

And for its part, the Fijian Government has chosen to lead by building a foundation of a violence-free Fiji and creating equality of opportunity for Fijian women.

He said for the first time the open-merit recruitment system gave Fijian women a level playing field as hiring is done based on individual ability.

“Today, nearly 30 per cent of leadership positions in the Fijian Civil Service are women. Given the achievements of Fijian women in education, we expect that figure to grow,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“But that movement can’t end at the halls of government buildings, it must sweep across society. Whether it’s in sports organisations, in businesses, in parent-teacher associations, clubs, or community groups, we’ve sadly seen the same painful story play out time and again in Fiji: Women who had the skills, drive, and ambition to lead, found themselves behind-the-scenes, in the charge of less qualified men because gender took precedence over hard work. That era must end.”

He said there was a need for democratisation of workplaces, communities, and social clubs to level the playing field for women to achieve success.

“As more women kick down the doors of old boys’ clubs by rising to become decision-makers in Government, as well as in the political life, in the private sector, and across our society, we do some of the most important work of rooting out the ugly superiority complex that so often breeds violence against women and girls in this country,” he said.

Yesterday’s launch was historic because Fiji will be the first Pacific Island country and one of only two countries globally – alongside Australia – to have a whole-of-government, whole-of-population, inclusive and fully funded evidence-based approach to developing the national action plan.

Key partners of the initiative include the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, European Union, the Australian Government, New Zealand Government and UN Women.

The Domestic Violence Helpline is 1560 while the Child Helpline is 1325.

Edited by Naisa Koroi




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