Violence against women is a symptom of gender inequality: Vuniwaqa

Members of Soroptimist International, golden Age Home trustee Kantilal Punja and Minister for Women, Poverty Alleviation at the groundbreaking ceremony of a Soroptimist International Fiji sanctuary in Natabua, Lautoka. Picture: REPEKA NASIKO

MINISTER for Women and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa is urging people to call out individuals who abuse women and young girls.

While speaking in Lautoka recently, she said violence against women has become a pandemic that could not be controlled if people remained silent. She said Fiji’s patriarchal driven society has also contributed to the increase in victims.

“Violence against women is a symptom of gender inequality and the propagated gender stereotype in a patriarchal society like ours,” she said.

“It occurs as part of a constructed and socialised set of unhelpful standards that have permeated into every corner in Fiji.

“It is in our families, our homes, our villages, in sports, at workplaces and even places of worship.

“It is time for us to open our eyes and to recognise this pandemic existing amongst us and to call it out when we see it.”

She said recent figures continued to paint a grim picture for women and children.

“The statistics of violence against women and girls are alarming. “Our statistics on rape and sexual offences are alarming as well. More than 60 per cent of victims are children. “Where are heading as a nation? “It is time for us to be different. It is time to step up and call it out. “We know that these things are happening. What are we doing about it?”

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