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FWRM Condemns And Calls For Renewed Effort Against Gender Based Violence

Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) is deeply concerned with news reports of a young woman who was allegedly stabbed to death by her partner in Naitasiri.

With the added stress emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, FWRM realises that the vulnerabilities of women and girls has increased even further.

FWRM along with other women’s rights organisations in an earlier press release, warned of a likely increase in domestic violence in lockdown situations.

“According to our research, it generally takes a woman more than 2.5 years to report domestic violence. With COVID-19 restrictions, this enforced isolation could mean the worst case scenarios for victims/survivors and those at risk,” Ms Nalini Singh, Executive Director of FWRM, said.

Ten women tragically lost their lives to domestic violence in 2019 and Ms Singh reiterated the need to prioritise responses to gender based violence during this pandemic.

In this light, FWRM commends the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation for the formation of the Gender Based Violence (GBV) Working Group and the COVID-19 Response Gender Working Group to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls.

Additionally, news reports last week of the alleged rape of a 2 year old girl in Rakiraki is disheartening, particularly after continued analysis by FWRM notes, that the average age of the youngest victims/survivors of Sexual Violence and Rape Cases heard in the courts from 2016-2019, was under 5 years.

FWRM recently published the analysis of Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls Rape Cases in 2019 as part of our ongoing research and advocacy on strengthening Fijian women’s access to justice.

The analysis found that all victims/survivors of the 101 rape cases decided by the High Court last year were female. The oldest victim/survivor was a 63 year old woman whilst the youngest victim/survivor was 2 years and 11 months old child.

In all 101 cases of rape, all the accused were male, the youngest accused was 12 years old and the oldest at 83 years of age.

The average age of victims from 2016 to 2019 is 16 years old and 53 percent of victims were under 17 years of age.

“This is a sad reflection of our society. There is no excuse for such despicable acts of crime and we need to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice and also address the deeply entrenched patriarchy in our communities which perpetuates violence against women and girls,” Ms Singh said.

If you are, or know of anyone at risk of, or subjected to domestic violence please call the Domestic Violence Helpline Number on 1560 and the Child Helpline on 1325.

The Sexual Violence Violence Against Women and Girls Rape Case Analysis 2019 is available on the FWRM website here.

FWRM acknowledges the Courts Registry and the High Courts for their transparency and publication of these cases on PacLii.

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