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Engaging Faith-Based Orgs in the Elimination of VAWG

21 November 2012

Taking the Message to the People - Engaging Faith-Based Orgs in the Elimination of VAWG

In efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls, the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre is engaging the churches to try and ensure greater dissemination of its messages. Approximately 30 pastors, priests, pundits and Imams will gather in Nadi for a two-day awareness workshop to help them better understand the issue of violence against women and girls.

"Since the International Day of Protest Against Violence Against Women falls on Sunday 25 November, we thought it was an opportune time for churches to pass out messages to their congregation about the issues concerned," said Shamima Ali, facilitator of the training. Now, the training has been broadened to include various faith-based organisations so that they can also put out proactive messages during the campaign period.

A preliminary meeting was arranged in Nadi last week and approximately 25 religious leaders from the area turned up to find out more about how they could be engaged. "When the meeting was called by the Nadi Elimination of Violence Against Women committee, we thought that perhaps up to 10 people would show but we were taken aback when around 25 people turned up at such short notice," said Ali. Ali says that this is a clear indication that faith-based organisations understand the need to work proactively in efforts to prevent violence against women and girls.

"We are very much aware that faith-based organisations have the greatest outreach and people look to them for direction so it is important that they have a good understanding of the issue of violence against women and girls and pass on messages which are empowering for women," said Ali.

According to the FWCC, very often faith-based organisations are the first point of contact for victim/ survivors and the response they receive is critical in determining the course of action they will take. "Very often women are told to forgive and forget but how often do they have to do this and at what cost to themselves and their children who witness the violence? In addition, in cases of sexual assault when families report the matter, they are often alienated by members of their religious community putting pressure on them to drop charges and not pursue a case. This is the type of attitude which needs to change," said Ali.

Ali says that as a part of the workshop, these religious leaders will be expected to examine their own religious interpretations and see how key messages can be used in the prevention of violence against women.

The workshop is being co-organised by the Nadi Women's Crisis Centre and the Nadi Elimination of VAWG Committee which is made up of key stakeholders and will be held at the Novotel Hotel Orchid Room 2 in Nadi.


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