Calls for Fiji Women's minister to apologise on comments
The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre is calling for the women's minister to apologise over her sex crime comments.
The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre is demanding the Minister for Women apologise and retract her comments on females needing to dress modestly to curb sex crimes.
Jiko Luveni has said if a girl is going out to drink with men wearing clothes that show off her body, she may be arousing the opposite sex and inviting trouble.
The centre's coordinator, Shamima Ali, says she is appalled and outraged by the comments.
She told Mary Baines that such ignorance is unacceptable for someone who holds a ministerial position and can influence government policy which impacts on the lives of Fiji women.
SHAMIMA ALI: She really cannot be doing this at this stage of the work that is being done on eliminating violence against women and children, and particularly in Fiji when there is such great concern at the moment around the increasing numbers in rapes and sexual assaults that are being reported.
MARY BAINES: She said that what women wear can send the wrong signal to sexual predators, you say that's victim blaming and removing the onus from the perpetrator. I mean, do you think these kind of comments negatively impact on public mindsets and how people feel about rape culture?
SA: Yes, definitely. Because it has taken us a long time to make some inroads in that kind of thinking. Where now, we do radio talkbacks, we hardly get a call where people are blaming the victim. But you know, it's like, we are really teetering, we've just managed to get people on side to start looking at perpetrators. So particularly people in authority who make these kind of statements. You know, it does have an impact on the rapists, particularly potential rapists who are thinking around this, again we are getting back to "blame the victim, we're going to get away with this". And of course, the society, the way we have done such hard work to change the mindset, and hopefully you know, that will stay in people's minds and there will be outrage from the public.
MB: So what would you like to see the minister do? You're calling for an apology?
SA: Yes, we are calling for an apology from her. I have already sent a message to the AG's office, one to the Prime Minister's office. Because this also negates what the Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, has said about violence against women and how they are going to come down hard on perpetrators and not letting them get away with it. Some pressure will be put on her to retract and to apologise. This is an insult to survivors of rape and sexual assault and the trauma that they suffer. It has to be retracted, and an apology is due to the women of Fiji.
MB: Dr Luveni has also said that the campaign against sexual violence and abuse against women has so far been successful. She says that police reports show that the crime rate has dropped. Do you think that's a reality?
SA: No. That's utter nonsense. This is coming from someone who is expressing such great ignorance of the issue. And in fact suppression of reporting of these cases doesn't mean that it is not happening. We work widely in the community and we know what's happening out there. You know, these zero tolerance areas that they have proclaimed zero tolerance to violence, putting up a board is not going to stop the violence. In fact what is happening in those communities is interesting, because what women are reporting to us, that there are crimes, terrible crimes of rape and domestic violence within these communities, is being suppressed. Women are encouraged not to report, and that they'll settle it within the village. And that is what is happening, and that is so dangerous for women. And this is going to confuse a lot of people, particularly the police, who really are getting there in terms of the community awareness they are doing on sexual assault.
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