LABASA (25 Nov 2016) – The Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa, has described the relationship between the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and her ministry as a “crucial one” in the elimination of violence against women.
“It is safe to say that FWCC is a loyal friend of my ministry due to their passion and dedication,” Ms Vuniwaqa said during the opening of new premises for the Labasa Women’s Crisis Centre (LWCC) today.
She commended the FWCC for extending its services to Fijian women who may not be able to access the services it provides on Viti Levu. LWCC is a branch of FWCC.
The opening coincided with the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women, held on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
“This will be another hallmark in the long list of great achievements of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre over the years and I wish to thank everyone who has had a role in the completion of the project,” Ms Vuniwaqa said.
In her keynote address, Ms Vuniwaqa urged Fijians to speak out against violence against women and to report any form of abuse to the relevant authorities.
The new building and a vehicle were funded by the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The Australia Deputy High Commissioner, Amy Crago, said her government was proud to have supported the work of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre for most of its existence.
Ms Crago said: “Australia’s partnership with the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre is a cornerstone of our strong commitment to the empowerment of women and girls, in particular in our efforts to address violence against women in Fiji and the Pacific.
“On behalf of the Australian Government, I extend my warm congratulations to the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) on achieving this milestone for the many women that the Centre serves,” Ms Crago said.
“The FWCC is recognised as a centre for excellence in the Pacific region for its programs on ending violence against women. This reputation is well-deserved,” Ms Crago said.
Ms Faga Semisi, representing the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), said apart from the four women’s crisis centres MFAT currently funds, there may be a fifth centre the New Zealand government may fund in Savusavu. MFAT has funded the Labasa centre’s programmes for the past 15 years.
Ms Semisi also acknowledged the leadership of LWCC Project Officer Sera Bogitini over the years, adding that Ms Bogitini’s name was synonymous with the Labasa Crisis Centre.
FWCC Coordinator Shamima Ali said she had mixed feelings marking the day, although she thanked DFAT and MFAT for their long-term support, as well as staff, volunteers, friends and supporters.
“It is sad to meet to celebrate this occasion, because this means acknowledging the great need to have a place where survivors of gender-based violence – rape, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment; can get some respite – it is acknowledging the high rates of crimes against women and girls and children in our beloved country,” Ms Ali said.
“Beneath the Fijian paradise lurks a terrible monster, capable of grievous harm to and sometimes killing, women, girls and children.
“What we do celebrate is the commitment we all have made to end this terrible crimes committed on women and girls. And what better day to mark this great event than 25 November – International Day of protest Against Violence Against Women.”
The Labasa Women’s Crisis Centre was established in 1995 through the dedication and commitment of a woman from Dreketi – Bimla Wati along with Rinieta Ratawa and other. From Vanua Levu they attended the first National Conference Against Violence Against Women in 1991.
They returned and arranged a training for women and never looked back. They worked out of Bimla’s home for two years and thus began LWCC.
The Centre was officially opened in rented rooms in 1995 with support from Canada Fund before New Zealand’s MFAT began its support.
Shamima Ali said: “In recent years, the leadership of Sera Bogitini has firmly established LWCC as the premier rights-based service provider in Vanua Levu for survivors of violence against women, girls and children.” FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT SHAMIMA ALI ON +679 9992 875 [/restrict]