Fiji domestic violence, crisis helpline calls escalate

In three months Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre attended close to 2000 calls what they would in a year pre-COVID19, with the majority related to domestic violence.

Centre coordinator Shamima Ali said of these calls (via their 15 telephone counselling lines including 3 via the 1560 Government counselling line) between April and 27 June this year, over 70 per cent are for domestic violence.

Ali says the increase in calls is compounded by some COVID-19 safety measures that she claims facilitate perpetrators’ abusive behaviour towards victims.

“It’s very conducive for perpetrators to perpetrate, the social isolation staying in your own bubbles, not being able to go out, curtailing all the freedoms and so the coercive control, the emotional abuse, the physical abuse, the sexual abuse, it’s rife, and it has escalated. We are not seeing like people perpetrating for the first time so much, it’s already perpetrators who were there and they are continuing that, so we’re dealing with that through phone counselling.”

Ali said they have also had calls from men who are suicidal because they are out of work and cannot provide for their families including paying their bills.

Requests for food have also been made to the centre including from a maternity unit this morning via workers who requested anonymity.

“We have to keep everything confidential because they will get into trouble so we are silently helping wherever we can, food, diapers, all those necessities that, maternity women giving birth needs.”

Ali said they have also had calls requesting medication.

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