Domestic violence not taken seriously - Fiji Women's Crisis Centre
The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre says domestic violence complaints made by women are not being taken seriously by the police.
The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre says domestic violence complaints made by women are still not being taken seriously by the police.
Its coordinator, Shamima Ali, says there is complacency towards issuing and monitoring restraining orders, and perpetrators are continuing their abuse without being taken to task.
She says FWCC has run a series of gender-based violence awareness workshops with the police, but a lot more needs to be done.
Ms Ali says FWCC has taken its concerns to the new police commissioner, Ben Groenewald, who she says has been very receptive.
SHAMIMA ALI: When women do complain the police are not wanting to take down her statement. They are not wanting to give out the domestic violence restraining orders, which the legislation demands, that a form should be at every police station. Quite a few of them also were not aware prior to our training that actually they could put into effect the DVRO, from the police station, so women are finding that very difficult being turned away from police stations and being told that they might be charged for giving false information against their husbands. Their husbands are also then coming and putting a counter claim. We have one case at the moment where she is still running around from pillar to post whereas his case, his accusation that she was violent is already in court and it was done very, very swiftly. Also the things that are being said to her. You know, sometimes even swears and quite abusive language used against women, particularly when they are demanding their rights. And if there is a complaint against police officers, male police officers against their wives, again, a lot of tardiness in taking up that complaint for the women. And then appear and go back to the police stations to ensure that their complaints are heard or statements taken, and the domestic violence restraining orders given out.
MARY BAINES: I understand you've been running a number of workshops with the Fiji police and a number of other groups?
SA: The workshop that we have had with the Fiji police only reached out to about 180 police officers from throughout Fiji, there are many more that still need that kind of awareness raising. So we definitely want to work with the crimes officers because they eventually made the decision to charge or not to charge, and also traditional leaders, like the turaga ni koro, the religious leaders, because these people have a lot of influence. A recent survey done by an organisation working with the police in the Pacific has shown that a lot of religious and traditional thinking and attitudes translate into behaviour that we see in the police not only in Fji but around the Pacific. Also in very patriarchal societies where domestic violence is taken as a norm and a husband's right.
MB: So there really needs to be a shift in the thinking about domestic violence in the police force and in society as a whole?
SA: Yes, definitely. Not only the police force, but because they are the major stakeholders in this work. They are very, very important, there needs to be a major shift in the thinking and hopefully with the new commissioner, we are getting some headway there, we will be able to do that. But society generally, and it has to come from the traditional system, from the villages, the rural areas, the leaders within that, and all those people need to come on board. They are coming on board, but it is with the authorities where we are falling down.
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