Vatukacevaceva village in the interior of the Ra province became the latest village in Fiji to participate in the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community (ZTVFC) campaign.
During the official launching, the Minister for Women and Social Welfare Dr Jiko Luveni presented a certificate of commitment to the villagers to acknowledge their decision on taking an action to stop all forms of violence against women and children.
Minister Luveni said that through the campaign, there will be consolidated awareness program to educate the villagers on reporting procedures, legislative laws protecting women and children.
In the process the communities setup a gatekeepers committee that is made up of village chiefs and leaders including women, youth leaders and community policing. This committee is the eyes and ears of this campaign, they are fully trained to understand the causes of violence and platforms available to assist the victims.
The gatekeepers work closely with the relevant stakeholders like the Fiji Police Force and the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Welfare to facilitate awareness and educational programs targeting parents, children and the leaders within a community. The community is provided with the relevant information and resources to help them make informed decisions, Dr Luveni said.
Vatukacevacevas soqosoqo vakamarama president Mrs Ateca Namusa, said that the campaign will boost the awareness of rights for women in the village.
The women here face problems like domestic violence, abuse and unwanted pregnancies however, before these issues were treated as private family matter but since the time the Ministry has introduced this program, there are discussions about these issues at the village meetings.
The women have been encouraged to report cases to the Police and we have realized that we dont need to suffer in silence there are laws that protect us and places we can seek assistance from when we faces problems at our homes. It is about time that we women are given the recognition for our years of contribution towards developing our families, Mrs Namusa said.
Vatukacevaceva village Chief Ratu Apolosi Amaciya said the campaign would challenge the mindset of the men and ensure that women are given the respect which they deserve in their homes and communities.
We are grateful to the Minister Dr Luveni for her visit here today and she is the first leader to have come to this village to talk to us on the need to protect our women and children as they are our real wealth for development.
We anticipate that there may be domestic violence cases which have not reported and we would like to see that these cases are reported to the Police. This campaign will also be an eye opener particularly to the men that violence is not justified in any case whether verbal, physical or emotional, violence is a serious crime and it should never be tolerated, he said.
The 10 major phases carried out during the implementation of the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Campaign are as follows: Initial planning process, identification of stakeholders, stakeholders meeting, establishment of gatekeepers committee, community consultation, official commitment, stakeholders training on gender based violence, community training on gender based violence, economic and social empowerment program and finally the declaration of the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community.