Tomorrow marks the beginning of the global 16 Days of Activism Campaign against violence against women.
The campaign commences on 25 November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – and ends on 10 December, International Human Rights Day.
Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Coordinator Shamima Ali says violence against women and girls continues to be one of the major human rights violations in Fiji and the Pacific.
Ms Ali said the campaign is a time to bring the stories of women and girls to light and demand for continuous action against patriarchy, societal inequality, gender gaps and injustices.
“Through campaigns like this, the voices of survivors and activists have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced any more.
“While we have made some progress and put violence against women on everyone’s agenda in Fiji through our 36 years of work, we still require more investment, leadership and action.”
Ms Ali said the issue of all forms of violence against women and girls is rooted in societal systems that uphold women’s unequal status in society.
As we mark the start of the campaign, we must remember that four women have lost their lives to domestic violence in Fiji so far this year.
The Centre continues to receive cases of violence against women on a daily basis and the COVID-19 crisis has made matters worse.
“From January to October this year, FWCC and its branches have received 751 domestic violence cases, 67 rape cases, 9 attempted rape cases, 42 child sexual abuse cases, 39 child physical/verbal/emotional abuse cases and 12 sexual harassment cases,” Ms Ali said.
She said while most of the domestic violence cases go unreported, in Fiji almost 2 in 3 women in an intimate relationship have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.
Ms Ali said women and girls are raped and sexually abused on a daily basis and the 16 Days of Activism campaign is important as this is when we intensify our demands on ending all forms of violence against
women, girls and children and advocate for better policy, legislation and services.
This year we also focus on International Labour Organisation Convention C190, focused on ending violence and sexual harassment in the workplace, and specifically against women informal workers whose lives have been severely impacted by COVID-19.
Fiji and Uruguay are the only two countries that have ratified the convention.
The 16 Days of Activism against violence against women was conceived in 1991 during the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute at Rutgers University, New Jersey in the United States.
Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Coordinator Shamima Ali was one of 23 women leaders from around the world who attended the institute and founded the campaign at Rutgers that year. Participants chose the dates in order to symbolically link violence against women (25 November) and human rights (10 December) and to emphasise that violence against women is a gross violation of human rights.
In Fiji and the Pacific, 16 Days has not only put the focus on the continuing violation of women’s human rights, it has also played a significant part in the movement for democracy, rule of law and human rights.
SIGNIFICANT DATES DURING THE 16-DAY PERIOD INCLUDE:
25 NOVEMBER: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
29 NOVEMBER: International Women Human Rights Defenders Day
1 DECEMBER: World Aids Day
2 DECEMBER: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
3 DECEMBER: International Day of People with Disabilities
6 DECEMBER: White Ribbon Day to commemorate the Montreal Massacre
9 DECEMBER: International Anti-Corruption Day
10 DECEMBER: International Human Rights Day