Death of Fiji journalist reignites domestic violence discourse
Recent domestic violence incidents reported in local media have highlighted the seriousness of the problem in Fiji which is one of the most commonly reported acts encountered daily by police.
The Fijian Media Association is grieving over the death of one of its journalists killed in what's being described as an act of domestic violence on Saturday.
Police are also investigating the burning of a 26 year old woman on the same day.
She was allegedly doused with fuel by her husband inside a local shopping mall and set alight.
The incidents have highlighted the issue of domestic violence in the country as Indira Moala reports.
The death of former journalist Losana McGowan, who was allegedly assaulted by her husband, has shocked local media.
The President of Fiji's Media association Ricardo Morris says Ms McGowan's death was confronting for all journalists who report on domestic violence cases in the country almost every day.
We're so used to reporting, almost on a daily basis, about the intimate partner violence that when suddenly confronted with one of our own, it's a shocking thing, and it becomes almost unbearable to think of. Just reading the news and seeing her name in the same line as a victim is really heart wrenching for us.
Mr Morris says Ms McGowan's death shows the existence of domestic violence in the industry and the need for colleagues to support each other.
The Coordinator of the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre Shamima Ali says both cases are a stark reminder that more enforcement of legislation is needed.
She says police aren't doing enough.
They just lack the will to enforce the Domestic Violence Restraining Orders. There seems to be little knowledge, though some training is being done by us, but it does not touch all the police officers and outlying areas as well. That is where women are turned away. Sometimes women are also discouraged from taking out a DVRO or sometimes threatened that they will be charged if they are giving false information.
Ms Ali says ongoing meetings with the police on how to tackle the problem have resulted in empty promises.
Fiji's Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald refutes her claim that the force is not doing enough.
It is not the truth. It has been proved internationally that the implentation of the Domestic Violence Act is one of the most difficult acts to implement b,ecause 99 percent of the cases between husband and wife - you receive the complaints and the next day the complainant comes back and withdraws the case. So we have adopted a zero tolerance approach here. Once a complainant comes in and complains about domestic violence, she will not be in a position to withdraw the case. So she'll have to go to court.
Ms Ali says misogynistic attitudes in the force contribute to the why the problem has not diminished.
It needs to change - for the people outside of the police force but first of all within the police force where women are suffering. Wives of police officers, women who are police officers themselves you know? It's an attitude problem. A very patriarchal way of thinking and that needs to go.
Police Commissioner Ben Groenwald says the only way to help eliminate domestic violence is if NGO's such as the Women's Crisis Centre and the police continue to work together to improve things.
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