Following the launch of Fiji’s first National Child Helpline in April this year, the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation has begun plans to establish a dedicated helpline to assist women particularly in addressing domestic violence cases.
This was presented in Parliament this morning by the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar.
“Our Ministry is collaborating with the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre on a communication plan towards the elimination of domestic violence in Fiji. More to that is to explore, for the first time, the establishment of the Domestic Violence National Helpline to that parallel with the National Child Help Line.
“The Fijian Government views violence against women as every Fijians’ responsibility. There is a need for a concerted effort in educating our communities, providing them with appropriate information, guiding them on all aspects of life, to increase their sense of responsibility and to help them build the strength and content of their character,” Minister Akbar said.
She also provided an update and way forward in the implementation of the Ministry’s Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Campaign.
“The Ministry in partnership with the Fiji Police Force has successfully declared 39 communities as violence free while 50 communities are working with the Ministry towards declaration for violence-free. There will be an external evaluation undertaken to review the violence free campaign and recommend on the strategic directions to meet best practice standards in program delivery, content and uptake.
“An important component of the violence free campaign is the establishment of the Gatekeepers. It’s made up of (Community Leaders, Faith based Organizations, village headman, Women Representative and Youth Representative and Advisory Councils) who are trained and mentored to provide counseling for victims of domestic violence, establish a functional communication with the Police, and these are the front line responders to domestic violence in the community and monitor occurrences of domestic violence in their community,” Minister Akbar said.
The Minister reiterated that communities also need to understand the existing legislations to access legal services.
“Our Constitution provides for protection of all and for all rights. The laws that are relevant for Domestic Violence are: Domestic Violence Decree, Crimes Decree, Employment Relations Promulgation, Family Law Act, Child Welfare Decree, Sentencing and Penalties Decree and Criminal Procedure Decree. The Ministry is furthering the MOU with the police in domestic violence to ensure that there is greater urgency during immediate response to victims of domestic violence and to see that the No Drop Policy is upheld at all times,” Minister Akbar said.
It was also highlighted that 64% of women in Fiji have experienced physical and or sexual violence by a husband or intimate partner.