Teachers play ‘vital’ role

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from left: Sharyn Chand, Neselinda Meta, Shareen Dutt and Deveena Prasad, at the FTU Womens Wing activism program in Suva, on Sat 02 Dec 2023. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

Teachers play a crucial role in helping young girls and boys to foster greater respect towards one another and grow into responsible adults.

This was the message echoed by Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Social Protection Sashi Kiran to participants at a 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence program, organised by the Fiji Teachers Union (FTU) women’s wing in Suva yesterday.

She also highlighted statistics from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), whereby 119 victims of 186 reported rapes, between January and August this year, were minors. “Our young are vulnerable, and we need extra focus on our children,” she said.

“I have been very concerned about our young girls coming out of orphanages at 17, 18 years of age, with no place to go and no support. I call on our human rights defenders to also focus on our young who need additional emotional, moral, economic and accommodation support.

“Your role as teachers is crucial to the protection of our children, you interact with children and understand their behaviour. Your words and actions impact every child that goes through your class and your contribution shapes their life.”

Ms Kiran also thanked the women’s wing for organising the event, which she said would help the organisation be aware of issues related to gender-based violence and gain knowledge on how they could contribute to addressing such issues.

“Our commitment to eradicating gender-based violence must begin with education. We must educate ourselves, our peers, and future generations about the importance of equality, respect, and consent.

“By fostering a culture of understanding, we can dismantle harmful stereotypes and challenge the deeply ingrained norms that contribute to violence.

“It’s you, the advocates of elimination of violence against all women and girls – the women’s rights defenders – who have initiated this education through the awareness and advocacy that you do. I salute you.”