SMS counsellor training for Vodafone mWomen upscaling

A total of 40 lawyers and counselors from legal fraternity and counselors from Empower Pacific attended the mWomen workshop at Tanoa International, organized by the Vodafone ATH Fiji Foundation. The workshop was convened in Partnership with Legal Aid, Empower Pacific and Neel Shivam Lawyers. Presentations made were on the mWomen channel available through dial *727# under Vodafone’s “mobile for good” program.  The workshop also included presentations on, online SMS adviser/counselor and work surrounding Empower Pacific on what and how they do it, who they help, why they do it – that is empowering people through care and support for holistic health, well-being and self development.”

The presentation also captured the core of child welfare decree, domestic violence decree, rape and sexual assault, pornography, cyber crime, family law, maintenance, power of the court, dissolution of marriage, custody, property etc.

Other topics discussed at the workshop were  police procedures, court proceedings, rape sentence, indecent and sexual assault, criminal case stats as well as breaking the culture of silence on rape, the myths to watch out for, rape, assault and reconciliation, barrier to justice for the victim and offences against women and our children.  Madam Nazhat Shameem, the Goodwill Ambassador for Women in Fiji was the keynote speaker.

Vodafone mWomen is a not for profit technology based system that seeks to share knowledge and skills around child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence and other issues pertaining to our children and women. Free Dial *727# has a menu structure for subscription (for receiving daily tips), SMS advisor/counselor (2 way interaction), legal aid directory and police directory. In addition, Vodafone and Inkk subscriber can also use the channel to donate towards children & women causes.  Registration of professionals who wish to volunteer their services   and donate their skills through this channel to make a Difference in the community is also encouraged and welcome.  The mobile for good program is effecting positive social change by offering advice, information and counseling through the mobile technology in partnership professional volunteers who are passionate about the community and its well being. Currently, 13, 482 people subscribed to the channel receive daily which aims to raise awareness pertaining to our children, women and the community at large.

Under Domestic Violence Decree, knowledge shared was around the topic of violence, including sexual abuse, stalking and telephone harassment and one could get a DVRO (Domestic Violence Restraining Order). The Director, Legal Aid Sunil Sharma highlighted the change in policy guidelines of the legal Aid Commission which is to provide free legal assistance based on the means test of the Commission only.

Also covered was the topic of Pornography, under section 377 of the Crimes Decree, Mrs. Shameem mentioned that any trafficking in pornography is a criminal offence.  Trafficking includes e.g. selling, distributing, exhibiting to the public. The workshop ended on a positive note that lots of awareness is needed on the ground amidst the great work of the lawyers and counselors to assist with the crimes against women and children. mWomen channel seeks to arrest situations using proactive approach and also capture situation through SMS advisor/counselor which may not be otherwise possible.

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