Editorial comment – Standing up to violence against women

Participants during a march pass during the launch of the 16 days of activism against violence against women in Nadi last year. Picture: BALJEET SINGH/FILE

The revelation that 77 domestic violence cases were reported to the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Nadi branch during the COVID-19 Lautoka lockdown will raise interest.

They were from women who had lost their jobs, we are told.

This was according to acting Nadi branch project officer and counsellor Lavenia Tuidama.

Most women, she pointed out, were going through a lot of emotional and verbal abuse in their respective homes because they could no longer provide for their families.

“Since March, domestic violence reported cases continued to increase for the Nadi branch and for April alone we had 40 reported cases,” she said.

Because of movement restrictions, she said, many women were home most of the time and verbal abuse from their husbands and partners affected them. She highlighted financial burdens and the impact on women.

“In some cases, men depend on women for their daily family affairs and women called us as they needed counselling because of the abuse that continued in their own homes.”

There were also a few cases of physical abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown, she said, and they had to seek the assistance of the police in attending to them.

Most women, she said, contacted them for counselling assistance when their husbands were asleep or when they were busy tending to other matters.

For those who came in late, the colour orange is a key theme unifying activities to raise awareness of the issue of violence against women and girls.

This week we marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25.

It marked the start of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence Campaign.

This officially ends on December 10.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka the Under-Secretary-General of the UN and executive director of UN Women, speaking at the official commemoration of the special event in New York City in 2017, said there must be justice for women everywhere, in all walks of life, focusing also on women at the base of the pyramid, and there must be zero tolerance.

Her message was apt then as it is now.

It means, she said, being there for those affected by gender-based violence and leaving no one out. Surely violence can be prevented.

In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. We really should relook at how we address the issue of violence against women and girls in Fiji.

The Fiji Times joins the campaign to encourage people to be aware of gender-based violence. As we have said before, being aware is the first step. We must appreciate and understand the impact of violence on the lives of affected people, and we must make an effort to change the mindset to make a difference.

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