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Women's advocate blames rape on political crisis

Women's advocate blames rape on political crisis

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SUVA (Pasifik Nius): A Fiji women's rights advocate has blamed an increase in inter-racial rapes on the country's political instability and says the abuse of women has become more frequent and intense.

Fiji Women's Crisis Centre coordinator Shamima Ali has also condemned police over an attitude that holds women responsible for being raped and are being oppressed against their freedom of movement.

On the FWCC's website,, Ms Ali has blamed the spread of violence against women on the "general state of lawlessness which has existed since the May 19 coup".

She said this was made worse by tensions and hostilities because of "irresponsible remarks" by leaders in the country.

In the Fiji Times today, Ms Ali was quoted as saying that recent comments by the Divisional Police Commander Northern, Superintendent Samuela Matakibau, indicated an "alarming move backwards" to fundamentalist ideals.

Matakibau had said girls in "vulnerable situations" would be taken into police custody and their parents asked to pick them up.

"What he has suggested is a gross violation of a woman's right to privacy and her freedom of movement," Ms Ali said.

"If this kind of attitude is allowed to grow and take hold in society, we are only a step away from the terrible situation we have in other countries, such as Afghanistan."

She said the police hid behind the notion that "it is our responsibility to stop crimes happening to us".

"When are they going to start doing their job?" she asked.

"Why are they saying they will take women into custody? Why aren't they saying they will in take men who are loitering or are acting suspiciously."

Ms Ali was also quoted in the Fiji Times as saying abuse within families had been contributed to by job losses, pay cuts, evictions, lack of coping skills and the inadequacy of law enforcement and the legal system.

She said that over the years women had become more confident in reporting cases of abuse.

Ms Ali attributed the change to lobbying by her centre and the Fiji Women's Rights Movement.

Coordinator Gina Houng Lee of the FWRM said her movement was also concerned about the rising rate of violence.



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