THE fact that there were more reports of violence against women in the Western Division for the first six months of this year will raise a number of questions. The increase is seen when compared with reports for the same period last year.
A press statement yesterday by the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre claimed there had been a rise in rape, domestic violence, child abuse and sexual harassment cases.
It said rape cases reported went slightly up from six to nine, domestic violence from 268 to 271, sexual harassment from 11 to 15 and child abuse from 11 to 15.
While, as the centre's co-ordinator Shamima Ali said, the increase was minimal, the issue had to be taken seriously.
There is a positive element in such a negative scenario though, especially when one takes into account the fact that these are reported cases.
Understandably there will be an issue about unreported cases and what percentage this constitutes in the greater scheme of things so to speak.
The fact that there are reports in the first place, on violence against women, should inch out a sense of appreciation of the scenarios that exist in our country.
It is alarming that women, in some cases, are still being cast into a web of violence on the home-front.
Obviously the fact that women are coming out to report such cases is significant and must be encouraged. The worrying bit is whether the figures are true indicters of the reality on the ground.
How many cases have never seen the light of day? How many women have been beaten up and continue to live with violence on a daily basis? How many women will eventually live a life filled with violence? How many of our young girls will grow up and be thrown into a world that is terrifying to say the least? Lest we run the risk of making this the norm, people who are affected must be encouraged to speak out.
It is never too late to appreciate and respect the importance of women in our lives.
But appreciation and respect are two very different things.
Obviously respect is important in any relationship. Acknowledgement and appreciation are equally important.
They can form the basis for a healthy relationship built on trust and acceptance of the fact that we are all different people with differing views.
The challenge now is for each one of us to nurture relationships that are meaningful.
For parents and guardians, it is important that our young charges grow up in unions that are vibrant, strong and happy.
It is important that the abused are confident and strong enough to speak out.