Domestic Violence Act 2009 empowers Fijian women
It was the Bainimarama-Government in 2009 that brought about laws relating directly to domestic violence.
That decree was passed as the Domestic Violence Act of 2009 by the FijiFirst Government.
One of the best features of this legislation was the no-drop policy when a case of domestic violence is lodged at any police station around the country.
This means that once a partner- be it a wife, a de-facto partner or a husband lodges a complaint of domestic violence, that matter should be taken to court and there would be no form of reconciliation between the parties in the police station. This has been a very empowering Act for Fijian women. We have all heard stories about how after a
The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre reports that 64 per cent of women in intimate relationships have experienced physical or sexual violence ...
police station reconciliation, more beatings have ensured at homes. On that note, having a Member of Parliament charged for assaulting his wife is unacceptable. A strong stance needs to be taken on this matter.
According to the Fiji Women’s
Crisis Centre, Fiji’s rates of violence against women are “among the very highest in the world”.
The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre reports that 64 per cent of women in intimate relationships have experienced physical or sexual violence from their partner, including 61 per cent who were physically attacked and 34 per cent who were sexually abused.
Why the no-drop policy is so important?
In Fiji, it takes a lot for a woman to turn up at a police station to lodge a complaint against her partner. While the Act covers men too, instances where a man has filed a complaint against a woman for domestic violence are far and few.
Often times, the complaint by the male partner is a form of retaliation after an initial complaint has been lodged.
So, while it takes a lot of courage to take that one step of going to lodge a complaint, there are many instances in which a woman may want to change her mind - family pressure, questions about who would look after the children are some things going through her mind.
In such cases, we look at the judiciary to make the right decision. Domestic violence is never a small matter which can quietly be swept under the carpet.
Repeat offenders are the worst and strict action needs to be taken, especially against those who think they are above the law.