NO VIOLENCE PLEASE

NAVUTUKIA PLEDGES ITS COMMITMENT TO ELIMINATE VIOLENCE

The Navatukia village in the Soloira district, Naitasiri has declared its commitment to stop violence against women and children. This follows the implementation of the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Campaign, spearheaded by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation.

The community has undergone 10 phases of awareness programs, to prepare them to take the pledge to protect women and children from all forms of abuse and violence. It was a double celebration for the Navatukia villagers yesterday as the Indonesian delegation, led by the Minister of Women Empowerment and Children Protection, Prof. Dr. Yohana Susana Yembise and her team also witnessed the official declaration ceremony.

As part of this campaign, a billboard has been erected in front of the village which reads “Navatukia village declared violence free community,” and it’s a constant reminder to the villagers of the commitment they have made to stop violence. The billboard was unveiled yesterday, by the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar and Indonesian Minister, Dr Yembise.

While addressing the community, Minister Akbar spoke to them on the need to work together as a society to “say no to violence”.

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“The Government is committed to creating more awareness amongst communities and thus the declaration of zero tolerance violence free communities in Fiji. The onus is on each one of you to take responsibility, to take ownership of the violence free campaign, where everybody sees violence as a serious crime and ensure to report it to the authorities,” Minister Akbar said.

“So, I encourage each one of you present here, to be responsible and protect your family, protect our children because they are our future. Through this program we are trying to reach out to the communities, to champion violence free societies.” Speaking on behalf of Navatukia villagers, village leader, Savenaia Nateilawa said the violence free community campaign is a step in the right direction for his people.

“We thank the Ministry of Women for this great initiative; it has been an eye opener for us as community leaders on the importance of our role to stop violence. The awareness sessions have been very informative, men and women are encouraged to work together and women are given opportunity to fully participate in village meetings. We now have a gatekeepers committee in Navatukia that works closely with the Ministry of Women and the Fiji Police Force to ensure that help is readily available should a need arise for women to seek help and report cases,” Mr Nateilawa said.

Mrs Asena Kenawai, president of Navatukia Women’s Club said that the violence free campaign has given them a new beginning in life.

“There are 30 women in our village, most of them stay home and make handicrafts and attend to domestic duties. Through this initiative, women have more knowledge on their rights to access justice and laws such as the Domestic Violence Decree gives them greater protection from domestic violence. It has taught women to value themselves, to work together to support other women, particularly to reach out and assist those who may be suffering in silence and that there is never any excuse for violence, we must take action to end violence,” Mrs Kenawai said.

“We are also grateful to Government for reaching out to us through income generating projects. We have also applied for assistance to start a poultry project and have been assisted with a women centre extension project that has given us a space of our own to have discussions, and conduct our weekly meetings for women.”