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Fiji Time: 12:56 AM on Thursday 24 April

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Standing by women

Dawn Gibson
Wednesday, February 06, 2013

THE government has called on community leaders and churches around the country to be more proactive in addressing issues such as rape and violence against women and children.

Ministry of Information permanent secretary Sharon Smith-Johns, in a statement on Monday, said the public could not ignore such issues.

"As a society, we cannot simply sit back. Churches and NGOs should play a large part in providing solutions," Ms Smith-Johns said.

And major religious denominations say they are heeding the call of the government.

Methodist Church in Fiji general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra said the church was doing what it could.

"There is currently a seminar going on at the Pacific Theological College, whereby some of our representatives are discussing the elimination of gender-based violence. That is a step forward," Mr Nawadra said yesterday.

The Sanatan Dharm Prathinidhi Sabha of Fiji's national secretary, Vijendra Prakash, said statistics were shocking.

"It's sad to note that there are members of society who do shameful things like this. Therefore, we have a responsibility to protect these vulnerable women and children," Mr Prakash said.

"We're constantly trying to educate our followers on this."

Adding to this was Father Fereimi Cama from the Anglican Church in Fiji.

"She makes a true statement, there needs to be a combined effort where everyone plays a part," Father Cama said, adding that it was good to see different churches coming together to stand against this. "More people are slowly coming on board but in order for the effort to be the most fruitful, all churches need to work at it."