I would have thought this is the sort of wise advice that one of the critics, SODELPA figure Dr Mere Samisoni would have given to her own daughters Selina and Vanessa when they were younger. It's certainly the advice of caring parents worldwide.
But no, according to Samisoni, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement director and anti-government activist Virisila Buadromo, and a growing number of anti-government party leaders (who as far as I know never previously made any public comment disparaging rape in Fiji) the advice was shifting the blame to the victim. Reasonable opinions would be divided whether this was implied by Dr Jiko. Everything would depend on the context.
Curiously, the Minister's remark is very close to those of many ethnic Fijian village leaders who have asked Government to allow them to make local village laws, among other things to prohibit young women dressing immodestly. If, as Mere says, Dr Jiko's remark is "from the dark ages [and] has no place in today's society " is she also implying village leaders should apologize and resign for thinking in the Dark Ages?
Dr Jiko's remark taken out of the context of a national campaign against rape could be taken to shift the blame but that was not all she said and, if there's any doubt on this, her rebuttal, published in the Fiji Sun, sets the record right.
Victims of rape are not and should not be pawns in the aspirations of political parties -- Dr Jiko Luveni
Dr Jiko said she has never, nor has the Bainimarama Government ever said that victims of rape are to be blamed.
“Rape is a despicable act and we must all condemn it [but] unfortunately and regrettably, this fundamental belief of mine was distorted in yesterday’s media coverage.More unfortunate though, is the manner in which some political parties are trying to turn my comments into a political issue to win points. Rape and victims of rape are not and should not be pawns in the aspirations of political parties and some NGOs."
“Mitigating the possibility of rape requires societal change. It requires a change in attitude, in particular by men towards women, as it is mainly women who are the victims of rape and domestic violence. It requires a change in the manner in which we view and condemn rape; it requires a change in the manner in which we support rape victims; and it requires a change in the laws and the implementation of laws. The Bainimarama Government has significantly changed the legal framework with a view to deterring rape and domestic violence and delivering justice."
- “We have removed the corroboration rule which had plagued our legal system and justice system. No longer do we require an additional burden of proof in rape cases.
- “We have introduced the Domestic Violence Decree, something which no previous Government or Parliament was willing or able to do.
- “We have introduced new laws that compel professionals, like doctors, to report any suspicion of violence.
- “We have created national awareness and inculcated a national level of sensitization to violence against women and children through a grass roots approach in setting up violence free zones.
“The issues of rape, domestic violence, and the protection and empowerment of our women and children are too important to be politicised. We must all work together to curb violence and empower our people.”