Editorial comment – Say no to violence against women

Patrick Morgan of Empower Pacific at the Wellness & NCD Consultation workshop in Suva, on Thurs 10 Mar 2022. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

It is a concern that counsellors continue to encounter cases of women who are struggling to meet their family’s needs or suffering from violence and relationship issues.

Empower Pacific CEO Patrick Morgam shared this at the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign in Lautoka on Friday.

Counsellors, he said, often provide immediate support to clients who call them.

There were many experiences, he said, that staff members had to endure when attending to gender-based violence cases for the care and safety of survivors.

“While attending individual psychosocial needs, we also provide awareness raising sessions — engaging with both women and men to address the issues. This is leading to transformation of unequal power relationships between men and women in a peaceful manner and contributing to the prevention of violence and gender inequality,” he said.

It was important, he said, to create a society where violence against women was not tolerated — not by neighbours, by the police or by the justice system.

The local NGO which provides counselling support services to Fijians will set up booths and carry out awareness campaigns in the West during the 16 Days of Activism.

As part of its campaign over the 16 days, UN Women is promoting 10 ways to end violence against women.

Violence against women and girls, it states on its website, remains the most pervasive human rights violation in the world, affecting more than one in three women — a figure that has remained largely unchanged over the last decade.

Global emergencies, crises and conflict, it states, have further intensified violence against women and girls and exacerbated the drivers and risk factors.

Climate change is aggravating all types of gender-based violence against women and girls, an already visible pattern that will undoubtedly grow more extreme as the crisis worsens.

It states rapidly expanding digitalisation is increasing online violence against women and girls, compounding existing forms of violence and leading to the emergence of new ones.

At the same time, there has been a rise in anti-rights movements and anti-feminist groups, driving an expansion of regressive laws and policies, a backlash against women’s rights organisations and a spike in attacks against women human rights defenders and activists.

In this context, it notes, ending violence against women might seem unimaginable, but it isn’t.

Ending violence against women is everyone’s business.

We must speak up, it suggests as part of 10 ways to end violence against women.

Violence against women is pervasive, but it’s not inevitable — unless we stay silent; Know the issue — and the signs, it says because violence against women takes many forms; Call out sexual harassment because for many women, sexual harassment is a daily experience.

Whether it’s online, on the street or in the workplace, brushing off inappropriate behavior serves to further normalise it;

Challenge beliefs on masculinity because toxic masculinity drives violence against women;

Fund women’s organisations because investing in women’s movements matters;

Call for better responses and services because services for women and girls experiencing violence can be the difference between life and death;

Demand more data because to effectively combat gender-based violence, we need to understand the issue;

Push for stronger laws because we are still 21 years away from comprehensive laws banning violence against women to be in place globally;

Support women’s leadership because during COVID-19, women were vastly under-represented on recovery task forces — a disparity reflected in the insufficiency of government responses to gender-specific issues like heightened domestic violence; and

Build solidarity with other movements because we’re stronger when we work together.

Again, we reflect on this campaign over the years, and encourage more participation as we count down 16 days of activism.

 

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