STUDENTS of a prominent all-male Suva secondary school have been challenged to become advocates for women and girls.
This was the recent plea from Fiji Women's Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali during the prefect induction ceremony at Marist Brothers High School.
"I want to make a plea in relation to the reported increase in incidents of sexual assault and rape — I challenge you all to become advocates for women and girls," she said.
"Speak out against jokes that put women down, respect your girlfriends, stop watching pornography and discourage others from watching pornography."
Ms Ali also called on the newly-inducted prefects to emulate the compassionate spirit of school founder, Saint Marcellin Champagnat.
"His aim was to get the poor and the underprivileged educated.
"He started school late because of the French Revolution, but on his first day at school he saw a fellow student being beaten and never returned to school.
"So your founder was a social justice human rights activist, who opposed violence, who cared for the poor and underprivileged, who was non-discriminatory and inclusive."
Ms Ali reminded the new leaders to be champions for the powerless and to use their positions responsibly.
"A badge is not to be worn with arrogance; not to show off and, it is not to indulge in bullying tactics to show power but, in the tradition of your founder, to show great leadership."