‘Uncomfortable truths’ at violence dialogue

Community reps from indigenous communities nationwide engage across gender barriers to address the root causes of domestic violence. Picture: SUPPLIED

DISCOMFORT was part and parcel of a dialogue aimed at finding ways to address the root causes of domestic violence.

Responding to a national survey which puts at critical the state of gender based violence in the Fiji, Suva based organisation, Transcend Oceania brought together 30 community reps from indigenous communities nationwide.

The survey, conducted by the Fiji Womens Crisis Centre working with the Ministry of Women found that 7 out of every 10 women in Fiji face violence at the hands of their male partners.

Father Edward Vakatora of the Roman Catholic Church’s Archdioceses of Suva said presentations from women’s groups present at the dialogue made him very uncomfortable.

“The presentation and discussions from women’s advocate groups were very one sided and made me feel uncomfortable and guilty for being a man. They seemed to promote that all men are perpetrators and that all men are violent and that everything about men, manhood and fatherhood must bow down to their opinion,” Father Edward said.

“I am for the dignity of all humans and when men and women understand this and about themselves they will be more respectful of each other and in partnership bring about a just and fair society according to fair principles that does not bring about inequality in responsibilities in the roles as good men,women, fathers and mothers.”

However Father Edward said he accepted the issue needed to be addressed by the church and said he was committed to catholic social teaching which seeks to uphold the dignity of all human beings as equal with roles and responsibilities.

He added one of the methods he wanted to look at was in the area of a lack of parental skills identified during the three day dialogue and explained there was a need for better awareness on the dignity of humans as individuals in any community.

Paulo Bale, the facilitator of the dialogue said the dialogue approach used at the event was useful because those who come to the table must agree to listen to each others point of view.

Mr Bale said the event was a pilot project which Transcend Oceania sought to replicate in other communities following the success of the Suva one which ended yesterday.