The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) stands in solidarity with its sister-organisation, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC), in expressing its disappointment and frustration at the cancellation of FWCC’s annual Reclaim the Night march by the Police.
“FWRM, along with many other women, men and children march in the streets of Fiji every International Women’s Day to demand safe spaces for women and girls. Last year’s march drew a huge crowd of supporters from all walks of life and it was one of the highlights of the year in terms of publically raising awareness on the issue of sexual assault”, said FWRM Executive Director Virisila Buadromo.
As rightly stated by FWCC in their press statement, the action of the Police to cancel the march, is in direct contradiction of the assurance given by the State to the international community at the Commission on the Status of Women meeting that they are genuinely committed to efforts to eliminate violence against women.
“A lot of time, effort and money goes into planning such large events and such a last minute and unjustified cancellation is unacceptable.”
FWCC organises marches in Suva, Nadi, Tavua and Labasa and as of this morning, march permits for all four areas have been withdrawn by the Police.
Since last year the human rights movement in Fiji have successfully organised peaceful solidarity marches such as on International Women’s Day, Human Rights Day as well as the One Billion Rising Fiji march and street dance on February 14th this year.
“The long standing national march organised by FWCC is where we get to freely express our concerns and raise public awareness on a critical human rights issue and in solidarity with others. It is an essential part of building individual and community support to address the elimination of all forms of violence and discrimination against women and it is one of our basic human rights,” added Buadromo.
“The decision to exercise one’s freedom of expression and association should not be at the whim of the State. How can Fiji acknowledge and address the rising levels of violence against women, if it does not even allow and support people to freely discuss the issue in public spaces?”