The Ministry for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation is working towards establishing Fiji?s First Helpline for women that will address issues like domestic violence.
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Hon. Rosy Akbar says the women?s helpline would work parallel to the National Child Helpline that is proving to be a success. The Ministry in partnership with Medical Services Pacific, Vodafone, Digicel and Telecom Fiji Limited launched Fiji?s National Child Helpline in April this year.
?Plans are in the pipeline to develop a similar helpline for the women, so that they can report cases and seek information and assistance when dealing with cases of domestic violence. There is a need for such a platform to be created. Once the helpline is in place, women can just pick up their phone and dial the toll free number to get advice, assistance of the professional counsellors.
?The child helpline that was launched three months ago has to date received positive reports, well over 1800 calls were made by the children and parents, seeking for information and advice on child welfare issues,? Minister Akbar said.
The Minister for Women also reiterated on the need for a collaborative approach to address the issues of violence.
?To battle domestic violence in Fiji, requires a coordinated effort and partnership between Government Ministries and Departments, Non-Government Organizations and Faith Based Organisations along with the communities.
?There is a need to understand the existing legislations and laws like Domestic Violence Decree, Child Welfare Decree which is in already place. It?s also important that communities are made aware of the procedures to access legal services. With this the Ministry works in partnership with existing stakeholders to provide information and training programs to stop violence,? Minister Akbar explained.
The Ministry?s strengthened partnership with Fiji Police also aims to intensify efforts to tackle issues like domestic violence and child abuse.
?The Ministry in cooperation with Fiji Police and other agencies have successfully declared 39 communities as violence free while 50 other communities are working towards the declaration phase. There will be an evaluation of the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Campaign to further enhance the program.
?A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed later this year between the Ministry and the Fiji Police which ?will ensure greater urgency is placed when responding to cases of domestic violence and to ensure that the No Drop Policy is complied with at all times. The Ministry is reaching out to women by educating them on the reporting procedures. More awareness would result into increased reporting,? Minister Akbar said.