Editorial comment – Violence on the home front

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Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Lynda Tabuya chats with women during the minister’s visit at the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation booth at the Nausori market on Monday, January 30, 2023. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

It is good to know that Minister for Women Lynda Tabuya and her ministry are working on the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls.

The aim is to help eradicate domestic violence.

In fact any effort or campaign to fight this should be encouraged.

It’s not going to be a stroll in the party!

Speaking at the Makoi Women’s Vocational Training Centre yesterday, Ms Tabuya said the national action plan was a whole of Government, whole of population, evidence-based, measurable and inclusive five-year plan.

Key strategies of the plan, she said, included promoting respectful relationships between women and men, girls and boys, community mobilisation to promote and normalise gender equality in public and private spaces, communication and media initiatives, school-based programs, response service and women’s economic empowerment.

The Government, she said, would work towards implementing inclusive and innovative policies and programs for the development of women entrepreneurship in Fiji.

This co-ordinated effort comes in the wake of Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) co-ordinator Shamima Ali suggesting, for the first time in three decades, they had recorded the lowest number of calls to the FWCC helplines over the Christmas and New Year week last year.

Ms Ali attributed the decline to the change in government, and suggested it reflected the happiness and joy expressed by people over the installation of the coalition Government.

“The people of this beloved nation are happy. Case in point is that for the first time in three decades, we had the lowest number of calls on our helplines over the Christmas and New Year week,” she remarked.

“There is a nexus between democracy and women’s human rights.”

An issue that keeps popping up here is gender-based violence, against women and girls.

From the outset, it is encouraging that the State is looking at processes to deal with it.

That must be encouraged.

In November 2020, Fiji National University acting vice-chancellor Dr William May, made a bold statement, suggesting Fijians needed to wake up to the fact that the majority of our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters are not safe in their own homes.

Statistics don’t lie!

He made the comment in relation to the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

Disturbing reports in the media that year, he said, indicated that 72 per cent of Fijian women were afflicted by some form of violence in their lifetime.

In saying that, we say the figures must motivate us to make a difference.

We must encourage processes and systems that ensure our women and girls are protected on the home front.

It should be a safe zone, the base where we churn out a life that we can all look forward to.

We should call out violence and generate changes in the mindset.

There should be no qualms about attacking domestic or gender-based violence.

Changing the mindset involves us all.

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