|Fiji’s shame – domestic brutality against women that ranks worse than global average
Domestic violence rates in Fiji are more than twice the global average, with one woman a day suffering permanent disability after being assaulted by a partner, a study has found.
The report by the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre described domestic violence rates as “alarming,’’ saying they shattered the Pacific nation's image of itself as a laid-back island paradise.
“Many people in Fiji believe that violence happens rarely, or that it is minor,'' said the 327-page report, partially funded by the Australian government.
“These myths are exploded by the findings in this report, which describe a terrible reality for many women living with violence.
“This includes severe and repeated attacks akin to torture... humiliating emotional abuse and high levels of coercive control. The high proportion of women who have experienced very severe physical attacks is alarming.''
The independent center, working with Fiji's bureau of statistics, used World Health Authority methodology to provide a comprehensive picture of domestic violence in the nation of 900,000.
It found that 64 percent of Fijian women had experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of their partner, compared with the WHO's figure of 30 percent globally.
Some 44 percent suffered severe physical attacks, while 15 percent of women said they had been beaten while pregnant, one-third of whom were punched or kicked in the abdomen.
The center said the violence exacted a high toll, with statistics showing that every single day one woman suffered a permanent disability, 10 were beaten into unconsciousness, five had bone fractures and three had teeth broken.
Center coordinator Shamima Ali said traditions ran deep in Fiji and patriarchal attitudes were still dominant in many areas of society.
But she said the issue of domestic violence was slowly being addressed.
“It is taken a lot more seriously but there are still huge areas where improvement needs to occur,'' she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“There is increased information, increased knowledge and increased concern around this issue over the years and more people are coming on board, so that's a positive thing.''