WOMEN's Minister Dr Jiko Luveni says rape and the victims of rape should not be pawns in the aspirations of political parties and some non-governmental organisations.
Dr Luveni said rape was a despicable act and everyone must condemn it.
She made the comments while denying a media report quoting her as saying victims of rape are to be blamed.
The minister, who has stated her intention to contest the general elections for the proposed Fiji First party, said her fundamental belief was unfortunately and regrettably distorted by the media.
"More unfortunate though is the manner in which some political parties are trying to turn my comments into a political issue to win points," she said in a statement yesterday.
"Mitigating the possibility of rape requires societal change. It requires a change in attitude, in particular by men towards women as it is mainly women who are the victims of rape and domestic violence. It requires a change in the manner in which we view and condemn rape.
"It requires a change in the manner in which we support rape victims and it requires a change in the laws and the implementation of laws."
Dr Luveni said the government had significantly changed the legal framework with a view to deterring rape and domestic violence and delivering justice.
She highlighted the changes made by the government in dealing with rape cases, the introduction of the Domestic Violence Decree, new laws and creating awareness.
"The issues of rape, domestic violence and the protection and empowerment of our women and children are too important to be politicised.
"We must all work together to curb violence and empower our people," said Dr Luveni.
In a statement, the Social Democratic Liberal Party's senior member Dr Mere Samisoni said Dr Luveni's suggestions in the media were outrageous.
Dr Samisoni said men and women must be held to a standard of behaviour in mixed company and basic good manners and respect for each other was a minimum level of behaviour for all.
"A girl or women's choice and style of dress must never be used as an excuse for anyone to commit such a heinous crime against women and children.
"Blaming the victim and suggesting that it is women and not the men who should take responsibility for avoiding possible abuse is thinking from the dark ages and has no place in our society today," she said.