FIJI: Survey Indicates Possible Drop in Violence Against Women

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
The Jet
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

There is some indication that the rates of physical violence against women have reduced since the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre's survey in 1999.

This conclusion was reached following a recent survey held by the centre in 2011.

However because of the different methods used by the Centre in both surveys, the most recent conclusion suggests that it would be unwise to assert a precise percentage reduction in the prevalence of physical violence.

In comparison, the 1999 survey found that 66% of the 1500 ever partnered women surveyed were subjected to physical abuse by their partners compared to 61% in the 2011 survey.

Adding to this, FWCC Coordinator Shamima Ali says the 1999 survey may have underestimated the prevalence of physical violence compared to the 2011 study, further supporting the conclusion that rates of physical violence have indeed reduced.

“The best example is how the survey was conducted in 1999. That survey didn't include questions on pushing and shoving, pulling of hair, throwing something at the woman, dragging, choking, burning, or threatening her with a weapon. Now all these were included in the 2011 study so you can imagine if these questions were asked in 1999, there would have been a marked difference in the rates of prevalence of physical violence,” said Ali.

She goes on to say that mind sets are also beginning to change among sections of the population towards a greater commitment to women's right to live free from violence.

“In 2006 there was a research on attitudes to women's rights and tolerance for violence and the overwhelming conclusion was that most people believed that if a woman is beaten, she must have done something wrong and deserved the ill-treatment. This contrasts with 57% of women in the 2011 survey who believe there is no justification for a man to hit his wife.”

The 2011 survey also suggests that there is a generational change occurring in attitudes among some young women who have “grown up with FWCC” over the past 20-25 years.

Unfortunately, these changes are not contributing significantly to protecting women from intimate partner violence.

“For this next step to occur, a broader and deeper transformation is required within Fiji society, including changes to entrenched social norms on a wider scale, a groundswell in changed attitudes and behaviour by men, and systematic improvements in the responses to violence from social and legal institutions,” said Ali.