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This was Jy­oti Prat­i­bha’s My Say pre­pared for FBC TV’s 4 The Record last night. It was not broad­cast due to FBC pro­gram­ming changes.

As the na­tion cel­e­brates Easter, it is a time to re­flect on the type of so­ci­ety we want for our women and chil­dren. Women be­ing raped are a gross vi­o­la­tion of their hu­man rights. It is a shame for all of us as a na­tion when our women and chil­dren can­not walk on the streets with­out fear. And not just rape. Any form of sex­ual as­sault is a taint on our so­ci­ety. Daily, women are sub­jected to var­i­ous forms of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, sex­ual as­sault. At their work­place - where an in­no­cent hug leads to open­ing of a Pan­dora’s Box, or from bosses who seek sex­ual favours in re­turn for work or pro­mo­tion.

At Uni­ver­si­ties! Yes. Ev­ery­one talks about this in hushed tones but no one comes up to dis­cuss this openly. Ask any univer­sity stu­dent. Ev­ery­one has a tale about one lec­turer or the other who is will­ing to turn a fail into a pass in re­turn for a lit­tle some­thing. It is hap­pen­ing. Turn­ing a blind eye to it will not make it go away.

Mar­i­tal rape is an­other re­al­ity. Just be­cause we do not talk about it, does not mean this does not hap­pen. And do you re­alise what is worse? The tra­di­tional form of apol­ogy.

Yes. This is also a re­al­ity. Many per­pe­tra­tors have been get­ting away with even rapes by tra­di­tion­ally apologising to the fam­i­lies of their vic­tims.

This is a fact that even the Fiji Police Force is grap­pling with right now. Re­cently, we came to know about one set­tle­ment where women were al­legedly raped for decades and the per­pe­tra­tor was get­ting away with it. Ev­ery time he al­legedly raped a woman, his fam­ily would do the bu

lubulu and seek for­give­ness. And, he would be for­given. Do you know why this was ac­cept­able or why it is dif­fi­cult for an em­ployee or a stu­dent to speak out against sex­ual vi­o­lence? Be­cause we as a so­ci­ety are fail­ing. Some­how, we have made these vic­tims feel that be­ing raped is the end of the road for them. The stigma at­tached with it is enough for any woman to keep shut. Be­cause we have made them feel that if peo­ple come to know about their or­deal, they will be judged. We have made women feel that if they speak out against sex­ual vi­o­lence that they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, peo­ple will turn on them. Their char­ac­ter would be ques­tioned and as­sas­si­nated. We all have heard that re­mark - she must have ini­ti­ated it, or she liked it the first time.

Or, she is a wife - it is her duty to sleep with her hus­band when he de­mands. We are to be blamed that women are hes­i­tant about com­ing forth. We are to be blamed when we start to jus­tify sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

Re­cently in In­dia, one girl had to record her fa­ther rap­ing her. Why? Be­cause her mother and sis­ter re­fused to be­lieve her. Closer home, we are so quick to turn a blind eye. If it is not hap­pen­ing to me, it’s all good. But stop this! Sex­ual ha­rass­ment should be ev­ery­one’s prob­lem. I leave you this week with these thoughts, till we meet again next week.

This is Jy­oti Prat­i­bha of the Fiji Sun.

Many per­pe­tra­tors have been get­ting away with even rapes by tra­di­tion­ally apologising to the fam­i­lies of their vic­tims.

Rape is hapen­ing. Turn­ing a blind eye won’t make it go away.

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