FIJI : Stigma Continues to Discourage Reporting

Saturday, July 23, 2011
The Fiji Times Online
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Only 20 per cent of sexual assaults and domestic violence occurring in Fiji is reported, says Fiji Women's Crisis Centre coordinator Shamima Ali.

Ms Ali said violence and abuse was still a major issue in the country and the main reason for the recent increase in cases was because more women were becoming confident and reporting offences to the authorities.

"Although it may seem like there is an increase in the number of cases, I believe the only increase is the number of women reporting, however, there is still a large number out there who are not reporting," Ms Ali said.

"Violence and abuse were always in our society but the avenue to get away from the practice was not available to them."

Ms Ali said of the women in the country, two thirds of the populace had experienced either abuse or sexually assault.

Parallel to this, the assistant secretary general United Nations Women, John Hendra said across 57 countries, an average of 10 per cent of women reported they had been sexually assaulted. But of these, only 11 per cent had actually reported the incident. "They are reluctant to report crimes to the police due to the fear of social stigma," Mr Hendra said.

"Social stigma can be overwhelming for women particularly in cases of sexual violence crimes where the victim is often more stigmatised than the perpetrator." Ms Ali said the only way to make sure they came out was by reaching out to them in their communities.