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Centre explains reasons

Felix Chaudhary
Friday, November 16, 2012

THE Fiji Women's Crisis Centre does not have a safe house or refuge for victims of violence.

Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali said there were a number of reasons for that.

Speaking at the sixth regional meeting on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls held in Nadi early this week, Ms Ali said it was the aftermath of the crisis that concerned the centre.

"We had mulled over the idea of setting up a refuge for women survivors of violence but have not yet done so because of the uncertainty of where women and their children will go after their time in the safe-house has come to an end," Ms Ali said.

FWCC deputy co-ordinator Edwina Kotoisuva informed participants of the difficulty in maintaining confidentiality in the Pacific.

Ms Kotoisuva called on all institutions that dealt with women survivors of violence to adopt and implement codes of ethics that complied with international standards of care that were rights-based.

"While it may be difficult to keep the actual location of a safe-house secret, those who work there must be trained never to reveal any sort of information that could put at risk the lives of those in the refuge," Ms Kotoisuva said.

"Women are most at risk of further violence when they decide to leave the violent situation.

"If we don't have a clear understanding of the situation of women and violence against women, we will end up pushing women back into a situation of risk," she said.

Ms Kotoisuva said while shelters were essential in the short to medium term to help victims recover, the women must eventually be able to live independently.

"Organisations running refuges should not view themselves as "saving" abused women.

"Instead, the process should be focussed on empowering women to rebuild their lives. We shouldn't create dependence. It should be about self-determination and empowerment," she said.

Organised by the FWCC, the regional meeting is held every four years to discuss the progress made in the area of elimination of violence against women and girls and maps out strategies for the work that remains to be done.





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