Fiji needs more safe houses to address issues of gender based violence: official

Gender violence

Safe houses should be more accessible to victims of gender-based violence in Fiji, a Fijian minister said Tuesday.

Speaking at a consultation on guidelines about safe-houses for victims of violence, Fiji’s Minister for Women Mereseini Vuniwaqa said that safe-houses provide hope to victims of violence and making them widely available is a priority.

“Shelters are a critical component of a holistic response to survivors. Shelters provide a form of secure accommodation for survivors providing essential aspects of protection, services empowerment and resources which enable women who have experienced abuse and their children to recover from violence to build self-esteem to regain a self-determined and independent life,” said the minister.

So far this year, the ministry has registered 1,545 assault cases against women alone.

Shelter organizations in Fiji are part of the workshop which aims to put together guidelines and standards for women and children.

Fiji’s rates of violence against women are among the highest in the world. The Fiji Women’s Crisis Center reports that 64 percent of women who have been in intimate relationships have experienced physical or sexual violence from their partner, including 61 percent who were physically attacked and 34 percent who were sexually abused.

United Nations Women Program Specialist Abigail Erikson is hopeful the participants will come up with a favourable outcome.

“So we’re really hoping that this workshop can help address the issue of violence against women and girls by continuing to talk about it and look at how we can work together to solve the problem, and also to ensure that those who do experience violence are able to get a shelter that is safe and accessible.”

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