14 Jul 2009

Fiji women concerned about police focusing on Christian crusade

2:04 pm on 14 July 2009

There are concerns the 'Christian Crusade' shaping policing in Fiji at present could be a backward step for women's rights.

The Creative Director of the women's group, Women's Action for Change, Peni Moore, says all officers, no matter what religion or Christian domination, are required to take part in the evangelical crusade, led by the recently formed New Methodist Church.

She says the families of Muslim and Hindu officers may suffer from the build up of frustration connected to their compulsory involvement in the drive

Ms Moore says the impact of this form of religion also puts women back into a subservient role

"It's telling them they have to accept horrendous behaviour as a test from God and forgive and carry on. We've had Ruggers for God, or for Christ or something, so they have been trying to get the rugby, but it is definitely trying to get across this patriarchal structure again, really putting women back down, so it means decisions will be made by men not women."

But the Director of Police Operations, Senior Superintendent Waisea Tabakau, says the new focus is on prevention and the evil spirits within the people who commit crime.

He says they have achieved a remarkable reduction in offending by teaching the people to respect one another and the law.