National strategy soon

GOVERNMENT is putting together a strategy designed to bring more attention to violence against women, says Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Minister Mereseini Vuniwaqa.

Speaking to the media during a press conference in Sigatoka on Sunday, she said the framework would include working with institutions and organisations that the ministry had not worked with before.

“If you look at all the programs we have around violence against women, they have been there for some time,” she said.

“A lot of these interventions are happening after the violence acts have occurred.

“The only thing happening pre-violence is some training and the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre is very strong in that area.

“Now we are moving into putting together a national prevention strategy and it will require us to work with stakeholders we haven’t done a lot of work around — particularly with men and boys.

“That is one of the biggest components of this new strategy.”

Mrs Vuniwaqa said the new national strategy would also include working more closely with faith-based and community organisations.

“We will also strengthen what we are doing in relation to partnerships with faith-based organisations and other influential institutions.

“At the end of the day, you cannot address violence in isolation, it is a whole host of things.

“The root is always the gender equality issues that we are grappling with.

“I understand there are eight deaths now and that is really sad.

“Personally, I would like to hear more from influential male leaders.

“In a few weeks’ time, I want to be able to come out publicly about what the ministry is doing in this strategy, the time lines and the processes in place to make sure it’s an inclusive one.

“We need the buy-in of Government and everybody.

“We need more open and frank discussion about this issue, once we have that in place, we will call a press conference because everybody needs to know.

“It will be an inclusive process and everybody needs to take ownership of it.”

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