RAPE is no laughing matter and people need to be aware of the severity of this heinous crime.
This is what many women and men came to address at a candlelight vigil organised by the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre (FWCC) yesterday, following a tragic gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student who died on Saturday from her injuries after being brutally beaten and raped on a Delhi bus on December 16.
The attack has caused outrage across the world and sparked demands in India for tough new rape laws, better police protection for women and a sustained campaign to change society's views about women.
FWCC executive director Shamima Ali said the incident in India was a tragic indication of women's and girls experiences of rape in Fiji and the rest of the world.
"Our aim is to remember her and many others who did not survive," Ms Ali said.
"It's also a call for action for us all to stop these heinous crimes against us, a call for our men and boys to step up and change their own behaviour and discourage disrespect for females in other men and boys."
Ms Ali says it is believed that only 12 per cent of rapes are ever reported.
"We also must not get complacent and think it's not happening here," she said.
"Surveys show one in four women in Fiji have been raped."
She said there was a need to meaningfully look at the law enforcement and implementation of the law.
"This is a wake-up call for all of us," she said.
A male participant in the peace vigil, Saawan Kumar said it was shameful to be a man when such things happened around the world.
"As men, we should be the ones there as a shield to women, not the ones assaulting them," he said.
"Rape is inhumane behaviour and severe actions must be taken to make sure the perpetrators are severely dealt with," he said.