Woman moved to escape abusive hubby, among 5610 FWCC assisted

A woman who was kicked in the face by her husband as she breastfed their 10-month-old-baby, and had to be moved to a safer location during curfew because she feared for her life after he continuously threatened to abuse and harm her further, is one of 5610 women who reached out to the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre in relation to domestic violence between 1 January and October end this year.

FWCC counsellor Shobna Devi said the woman called seeking their assistance to get a pass so that she could move to a safer place.

“So FWCC with the assistance of police and ministry of health arranged for us to move the survivour to a safer place.”

She said the incident was not the only case that the centre sought police and MOH assistance.

FWCC acting manager research Natasha Nair said of the more than 7000 calls they received, 5610 were related to domestic violence of which over 3000 were received during the lockdown period.

“Some of the reasons that women were calling because they were unable to move out of the house because of all the COVID restrictions and also they were controlled by their husband,” Devi said.

“Whenever they would call FWCC, they would have to either find a place where there was no one else around or if their husbands or partners are asleep, then they quietly send us text messages that they are needing our assistance. And the husbands and partners were controlling them not to access social media, not to go on their mobile phones. Those were some of the reasons, and they also assaulted and abused verbally and emotionally. Because of COVID restrictions, women are working from home so they have to look after the children, do all the household chores, and cook and clean for the family. There was no support from their husbands.”

During the same period, there were times that the centre sent money via Mpaisa so that the survivors could call and update the centre regarding their situation. Some were provided transportation and more than 25 provided temporary shelters, including a survivour from Lau.

Over the same reporting period, the centre recorded 40 rape cases, nine attempted rape cases, 59 sexual harassment cases, 54 child rape cases, 122 child sexual abuse cases and 70 cases were in relation to child physical, verbal, and emotional abuse.

FWCC coordinator Shamima Ali described the numbers as startling, calling on everyone to stop being a bystander and intervene when they come across such incidents.

“When we talk about child rape, the rape of young girls in their own homes, we are talking about ongoing abuse of children. A lot of the violence was conducted by people known to the survivour whether its a child, a woman or a young woman. Most of those known people are relatives in our own homes, and reporting is so difficult because we protect our patriarchs in our own family, the man in our own family, we protect them and that is why it is underreported. These things are happening. It’s an everyday basis.”

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