The festive season is upon us and the year is coming to an end.
For many of us, it’s a time for reflection, a time to take stock and plan for the coming year.
With 2020 being a very difficult year for many, the festive season gives time for people to relax after a hard year of work, participate in parties and office get-togethers.
It’s also that time of the year when many families will be uniting after a long time.
For many women and children what should be a time of happiness, celebration and family time, is in reality the continuation or intensification of violence, threats and intimidation. Just because it is the festive season, it doesn’t mean that verbal, physical, emotional, sexual and
financial abuse goes away.
Sometimes for women, it is the end of a life once known or the start of challenges and decisions brought about through domestic violence, sexual assault or rape.
It has always been noticed that cases of violence against women and domestic violence spike during the holiday period from before Christmas to after New Year.
The festive season offers no respite for survivors, with many women and their children spending their Christmas and New Year’s living in fear and away from their loved ones.
For many women, Christmas is a time of bashing, hurt, fear, intimidation, cruelty with sudden flashes of
violence and abuse directed at them and their children.
The Christmas period over the years has seen police, health and counselling services attend to many
cases of rape. There’s something about the Christmas party that attracts those who choose to
perpetrate sexual harassment or sexual crimes against women.
Today, structural barriers, patriarchy and discriminatory social norms continue to constrain women’s
decision-making powers and political participation in many households and communities.
Women are still being subjected to second class treatment by many.
Women and girls are not safe even in their own homes.
Let’s change the conversations in our homes, communities and workplaces to end violence against
women and girls, not only for this festive season, but forever.
This year, we faced one of the biggest crises the world has ever seen – COVID-19.
This left many without jobs. Many of these were women and many in the informal sector.
Four women lost their lives to domestic violence and many continue to suffer in silence and live in a
controlled and abusive environment.
Many people have also lost their homes and belongings in the recent Category 5 cyclone that wreaked
havoc in many places, particularly the Bua Province and outer islands.
The most vulnerable are women and girls with disabilities, widows, single mothers and members of the
This festive season, lets stand in solidarity with these people, lets lend a supporting hand and let’s be
compassionate and caring.
The festive season should be a time of joy and not fear.
I urge people to be sensible with their alcohol intake and give true meaning to Christmas – season of
peace, goodwill and giving joy to those we love.
This is also a time of the year when people will be receiving their royalties, land lease payouts, cane
payments and bonuses.
We are in hard times, and I urge you to use your money wisely because you will be needing it next year
for your children’s education. Save that money rather than using it on alcohol.
Let’s find strength in our differences, and celebrate everything we have in common and do our part to
take care of each other, and make life better for the people around us.
It is my wish that during this period we all do what we can to ensure that everybody — women, girls,
men and boys — are able to live lives free from violence or the threat of violence.