FWRM condemns domestic violence. Enough is Enough!
FWRM strongly condemns the horrific and brutal killing of Fijian women in intimate partner violence and stand with women across Fiji to call for action. Yet again, we add another death to the gruesome statistics we have for fatalities through domestic violence in our country. When will these stop?
The most recent case involves the tragic death of a 35-year-old mother of a 2-year-old in Labasa at the hands of her estranged husband.
“When will society decide that enough is enough? Women and children should be safe in their homes, schools and workplaces. This year alone, we’ve seen multiple diverse women lose their lives to this epidemic,” said FWRM Executive Director Nalini Singh.
Recent cases that have captured media attention include two young women that were murdered by their partners earlier this year. The victims were killed in separate cases within a week and one of the women was pregnant. An Australian woman was also killed by her partner in Fiji last month. In Fiji, 64 percent of women experience intimate partner violence. According to FWRM 2017 research, it takes women over 2.5 years to report their issues of violence. Within this period they would still be suffering from violence before eventually seeking assistance.
Women experience real fear when they decide to leave abusive relationships but this does not stop the violence. Instead, we see calculated ways in which they are stalked, shamed, harassed, assaulted and even murdered.
“According to the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre statistics, as of June 2019, there have been 295 cases of domestic violence in Fiji within 180 days. It’s appalling that the statistics continue to reflect a grim and horrific reality for women when Fiji has progressive laws in place such as the Family Law Act, Crimes Act and Domestic Violence Act,” she said.
“It must translate to meaningful change in the Fijian communities, which requires attitudinal change. It requires challenging gender stereotypes and treating women as equals. This means that there is only theoretical constitutional provisions prescribing equality however the reality on the ground is far from this,” she added.
FWRM recognises the efforts by the government towards the elimination of violence against women. It was encouraging to see members of Parliament condemn domestic violence strongly but it is also crucial to exercise great caution and not lose sight of the issue at hand, which needs to be addressed.
“It is high time we as a society stop shifting the blame and must acknowledge the underlying root cause of violence against women as deeply entrenched patriarchal culture and toxic masculinity which normalises violence as acceptable behavior.
We are encouraged to see many employers declaring that there is zero tolerance for violence against women. However, violence, discrimination and abuse exist in a continuum and can range from sexist, misogynist attitudes to murder. Therefore there should be zero tolerance for all violent attitudes, beliefs and behaviors everywhere. These include our homes, our workplaces, our streets, our schools, our communities and even in our Parliament.”
“Real change starts from our attitudes and what we are teaching our children and families at home. We need to call out bad behavior that is abusive and normalises violence in every location and situation. We need to empower women and girls to have control over their own bodies and to support each other”.
“Violence against women is an epidemic in Fijian society. It is not limited to one particular ethnic group nor did any ethnic group introduce it in society. It has been happening over generations globally,” said Ms. Singh.
“Women are losing their lives. Families are being torn apart and children are losing their mothers. We need to do better. Frankly- enough is enough now!