Editorial comment – Attacking gender-based violence

Fiji National University’s (FNU) Acting Vice-Chancellor Dr William May. Picture: SUPPLIED

Fiji National University Acting Vice-Chancellor Dr William May made a bold statement when he said Fijians needed to wake up to the fact that the majority of our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters are not safe in their own homes.

The statistics don’t lie. They tell us a story that should concern us all.

When we consider all that happens around us, we are left to accept that some of our women and girls are staring at a blank wall in their own homes.

Dr May made the comment in relation to the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign which commenced with International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Wednesday.

The disturbing reports in the media, he said, as revealed by the Ministry of Women in September this year, indicates that 72 per cent of Fijian women are afflicted by some form of violence in their lifetime.

This, we agree, is pretty serious stuff. In fact the figures must motivate us to stand up and be counted. We must make a difference.

We must encourage processes and systems that ensure our women and girls are protected on the home front.

That should be a safe zone for us all. It should be the base where we churn out a life that we can all look forward to, ensuring there is a safe place for us all.

Dr May said women played a crucial role in the development of Fijian homes, schools, workplaces, communities and the nation. The need to eliminate violence against women and girls, he said, was everyone’s responsibility.

He spoke about eliminating gender-based violence, raising the issue of a multi-stakeholder approach that embraces families, communities and organisations working together to call out violence and generate changes in the mindset.

He encouraged those in need of assistance to reach out to trusted persons, women’s organisations or call the National Domestic Violence helpline number 1560. There should be no bones about the need for us all to protect our women and girls.

There should be no qualms about attacking domestic violence and the abuse of our women and girls.

In fact it should stretch right through to ensure violence is not tolerated at all. This isn’t an easy proposition.

However, we can be part of the solution. We must take the first step to ensure the base is set. Changing the mindset involves us all. Again, we reiterate the position

The Fiji Times is taking in support of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

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