Sad When Domestic Violence Turns Political, Tovata Support But Where's the Work on Ethnic Interaction?

WHEN EVEN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TURNS POLITICAL.  In what seemed to be a stand-off slinging  match, the Fiji Womens' Crisis Centre Shamima Ali claimed the Domestic Violence Decree promulgated last December was not in force and is not being implemented. Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khiayum disagreed, saying the decree is in force and is being implemented and Ali is misinforming the public.

To which Shamima replied: "You should check with the courts before slandering us. I never lie about these things. Why don't you talk to me? You all should get your facts right, right hand should know what left is doing ... the Womens' Crisis Centre has more integrity than most. We will never let our women down for our personal gains."

To which Aiyaz responded  that Shamima's information was incorrect. The Decree is very much in operation.  For example, the number of restraining orders that have been issued at all levels. "But if the FWCC believes the Police are not doing their job, they should inform them and or the Ministry of Women, and take a collaborative approach rather than making pronouncements through the media in the first place."

To which Shamima said they are not able to protect their clients as the courts and the police are not implementing the Domestic Violence Decree and are not aware of it.

To which Aiyaz replied: There has been extensive training conducted with various stakeholders which included lawyers, prosecutors, police, members of the judiciary, government officials and NGOs to ensure its successful implementation to protect women and children against domestic violence.

And that is how two highly educated people resolve or attempt to use (depending on your standpoint) even straightforward black and white issues in Fiji today. One must wonder  just how much of the dispute was political. The Decree either is, or it isn't, or isn't (being implemented) all the time.  It shouldn't take a slinging match to find out.  What hope is there for "genuine" dialogue on other important issues?

VANUA LEVU AND LAU SUPPORT GOVERNMENT. The Tovata Confederacy that comprisesthe provinces of Cakaudrove, Bua and Macuata in Vanua Levu, and the islands of the Lau Province to the east and south, have expressed support for Government putting development work before elections as its number one priority. The current government says it has put a focus on rural development and on effective service delivery to people in rural areas.

[Ed.note: I cannot understand why Government continues to present these issues as alternatives, with development having to come before work on elections can even start. Nor am I persuaded that physical and infrastructural development is any more pressing than work on social development, most especially with regard to initiatives aimed at helping inter-ethnic understanding. What work is going on in schools, the public service, the military, the churches and other religious institutions, and among the general public, to develop basic languages skills in Fiji Baat, Hindi and Fijian, and help improved understanding of Fiji's many cultures and cultural values?   Unless these at least start to change before 2014, what value is the elections?]
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Why ? said…

If you take off your rose colored glasses that might help you understand why government present these issues this way.

They want to defer the hard work, they are not serious about diversity nor creating one Fiji. It's sadly that simple.
Our way said…
Shamina is a tough women. She has had to be to survive this coup. Do you think this government would really react if she quietly complained to the police ? She is most definitely on the black list of people the police have been asked to ignore. This is the reality of Fiji. No healing - only retribution. If you didn't support the coup and if you don't support the PM and his team you are on the outside full stop.

Our way or the highway is the only consistent rule in Fiji at the moment and Shamina thankfully followed the military way all the time.
AG said…
You don't discuss things with the AG - he talks to you. If you had met him you would understand that.

As for the PM he does not really believe in this womens rights stuff anyway.
Put a lid on the political pot said…
One is informed reliably that the Domestic Violence Decree IS being implemented in the Courts. However, the Fiji Police Force are not performing up to par and it is likely - repeat - likely that they are not attending to complaints as they should. They have not been attending to complaints about other offences as they should have done including: criminal intimidation, murder (in one particular case not for two years) and home invasions. Up in the North, likewise. Common assault and a complaint associated with it has not been dealt with and it is reported that files and medical reports are missing (same old adage). This will not do. But Ms Ali is also, despite her protests of integrity, often hoist on the petard of political convenience. Let the women and children of Fiji be cast aside for the ideology of the moment. Some of us find this intolerable. The Ms Shamima Alis are too often taken up with paid trips on flying carpets to satisfy the whims of their Funding Masters. Paying attention to domestic violence and other kindred woes seems to come a pale secondary activity? This is not to say that some improvements have NOT been achieved. But the political veneer and overlay is tiresome and counter-productive. Why not stay- at- home for a change and get on with the task in hand? It may be boring and dull and set about with uncertainty: so be it. That is the place we are in. Why not choose for once to stay still, be less shrill and share it with those who have no other choice? Take a deep breath and try to see yourself as others see you. Sad to relate, you have many "look alikes". In fact, they are plastered all over the Pacific region.
. said…
@ Why? ... Which issues? Which way? It's my presentation, not government's.

@ Our way ... You have a good point but confrontation doesn't help.

@ AG ... Actually, the AG and I had a good, long discussion when we met. But he did give the impression that he wouldn't suffer fools gladly.

As for what the PM believes, are you claiming that he does not agree with the legislation passed by his government? I'm not sure how you know what he believes about legislation to protect women and children against male violence, but your opinion is shown by the use of the derogatory word "stuff.
Genuine dialogue said…
We would all love genuine dialogue in Fiji (and hopefully one day again, democracy and freedom).
However in the meantime we have neither - one does not have to be too bright to know that 'genuine dialogue' and 'military regime' are mutually exclusive. If Fiji is to move forward perhaps more honesty and less denial would help?
Sands in the hourglass of time said…
The AG is simply too arrogant to occupy the place he sees for himself in national life, and that is to eventually lead the country. It's not so much that he "talks at people" or "doesn't suffer fools gladly". It's more that he has a sense of entitlement that he doesn't deserve because he hasn't earned it by subjecting himself to the will of the people. He's come to power as a clever and polished double act for the man with the gun but not the same level of education. And because of that, he lacks legitimacy in the eyes of too many of his countrymen to hold the obvious pretensions he does. His constant appearances in the media, garlanded and feted, do nothing to help him. He's widely regarded as a viavialevu, leaving aside the fact that the country won't be ready for perhaps another generation to be led by someone like him. It's not so much racial, though anyone who says that isn't an issue has no idea of the feelings of the i'Taukei. It's that Aiyaz owes everything to the patronage of someone else who wasn't elected either. Some of his friends openly speculate that he might marry an indigenous Fijian to cement his role as Frank's successor. But this is just idol fantasy on their part and maybe his. The truth is he displays little sense of appropriate conduct in the Fijian context, which at the very least demands the appearance of modesty and self effacement and deference to all things vaka turaga. Shameem Ali's very public attack on him proves that he's a divisive character even for people from his own ethnic background. So the notion of him leading the country, even after the restoration of democracy, is merely a construct in his own head. The fact is he'll be lucky to keep that ( his head) given the open hostility towards him in sections of the military and the civil service. I'm not being literal, just that a number of powerful people at the heart of the regime would prefer that he pursues his brilliant career elsewhere. Only one thing separates Aiyaz from power and oblivion and that's his adoring patron Frank. If and when that rugs gets pulled, the fall from grace will be instant and spectacular. And there'll be only one person to blame - himself.
Go for it said…
Much has been made of the strength of the Muslim elite in Fiji but here's a spat that shows just how far apart some of its members can be. Shameem Ali and Aiyaz Saed-Khaiyum are bright, articulate and at each other's throats. Which I happen to think is a good thing given the racial and religious stereotyping in Fiji that's always assumed the various communities will speak with one voice. Vinaka.
A Parity of Esteem for All said…
Less Denial.....

There has been very much 'in denial'. Women and Children suffer in Fiji because they are powerless and therefore 'fair game'. A horrible phrase. But like the sitting ducks, women and children are the nearest beating bag, the easiest prey. Politics has always featured in the treatment of women and children in Fiji. It has been almost impossible to exclude those who insist upon the politicisation of everything on a daily basis. Removing political parties does not necessarily remove this kind of thinking. Until women are given power over their own lives, are allowed a measure of financial independence which will not build resentment in men and all are persuaded that working together for one goal- a prosperous and evenly distributed economy - progress will be by fits and starts. Piecemeal social engineering is the safest approach. Because wholesale engineering contains huge risks.....These risks must be amply recognised and mitigated. Difficult to do with no social safety net. Such a net should have been worked towards on a Regional Level - long ago. Since it was not, it must be thought about now. We still come back to Parity of Esteem: for women, for children and the young and for men who contribute - not for those who do not. Be part of a solution - desist from being party to the problem.
Anonymous said…
@ Genuine Dialogue..

A genuine dialogue will only come about when trust and confidence are restored: at least in some individuals who have a mandate from others they represent. When this is in place, then dialogue may be entertained. It is now about individuals who command a measure of support and respect. Those who have not changed their stance to suit the purposes of the Pullers of Strings. Those who have sufficient esteem and humility to work towards an outcome and not have to take credit for it. This ensures that no politician will qualify. Almost all politicians feel obliged to take the credit even when it is not their due. It is a world-wide phenomenon and not exclusive to Fiji.
Cicero said…
@ Bertrand Russell quotation for week 5 Sept:

A very good, thought-provoking quotation from Lord Russell. Succinct and true. All bloggers take note and this is why things are so often not what they seem!
MJ said…
This is where it becomes obvious that Shamina Ali has shot herself in the foot by becoming political against the government instead of just doing her important job of representing the rights of all women. She constantly attacked the government at every opportunity, so now when she might have something important to say it is disregarded, or she twists it to become just another attack on the government. Instead of addressing the problem where it appears to be, police implementation of the decree, she attacks the whole government, all she can do is get into a slanging match with the AG, accusing the government of misinforming the public that they have tried to address women’s rights. Why would this government have spent all the time and energy writing up this decree (not a simple job) if they have no intention of supporting it? I didn't see Qarase or any previous government putting forward a similar law.

Where was her positive comment when the decree was put out? Where have been her constructive comments, input and tying to work with the government to ensure the decree was working as it should? Where was her loud criticism of Qarase when he didn't even try to pass any such laws?

I’m sorry, but her record does show that she is letting women down for her own personal gains and political beliefs. She is only trying to representing women who are against the current government. I expect that there are many women in Fiji who feel that their rights are much better protected under the current government and she does not represent these women at all.
Valarius said…
"We will never let our women down for our personal gains"

Who the hell is she kidding, with the high rate of older women and young adolescent females being raped one has to ask the question where is the integrity.
Pretty Maids All in a Row said…
@ Valarius

If the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre were a business, it would have to be judged by outcomes. So would many other Fiji-based Non-government Organisations which should conform to the same criteria. But does the outcome justify the profile? Are women in Fiji still abused and raped? Yes, they are. And it is true that they are often elderly and disabled and unable therefore to defend themselves. They are vulnerable. What kind of outcome is this? Does it maybe suggest that a 'Change of Tack', in approach would achieve better results? This is what we must ask. We should also ask why funding continues apace despite mixed messages in the outcomes. But that is another matter entirely. It has to do with political clout, funded from afar and used often at cross purposes to what we, the women of Fiji, would wish. For we do have our own wishes and aspirations about our treatment: not only by violent people who abuse us and sexually violate us often at will. But, moreover, about the manner in which overseas countries conduct their foreign policy towards us. If the incoming Australian PM is to be female in the person of Ms Julia Gillard, we would expect this change of tack with regard to foreign policy on funding. FOr surely Ms Gillard must know that the proper end of funding for women's interests is to consult and to consult widely? In other words, have a dialogue with women which is truly representational and Put A Lid on the Politics - for good!

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