Protect women

MEMBERS of society need to use good aspects of religion and culture in order to further strengthen efforts to protect women and promote gender equality.

“With religion and culture playing a significant role in the upbringing of people in the Pacific, sometimes there is a tendency to bring in particular cultural and religious values and beliefs into workplaces,” says Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali.

“We continue working in a particular way — we don’t want families to break up, sometimes there is an acceptance of men beating up their wives and things like that but it is important that people start looking at certain issues from a human rights perspective,” she said.

During a FWCC-organised regional training workshop for members of police from 10 countries, Ms Ali said they were working to raise awareness on these issues.

“Those parts of culture that are not good need to be taken away and we have to see how we can build on the good aspects of our culture and religions.”

She explained an integral part of the workshop was understanding how religion and culture impacted thinking of an individual with regards to violence against women.

“We will be looking at different laws pertaining to gender-based violence in different countries. There are changes in law, especially around protection and domestic violence restraining orders.

“We are also looking at the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community, women with disabilities and particular vulnerabilities.

“We will be addressing homophobia within the police force.

“We have a lot of people from the LGBTIQ community who are coming out and the harassment of them continues so we need human rights awareness around those issues.”

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