The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs has announced a firm stance against the escalating issues of drug abuse and violence, particularly in iTaukei villages, responding to the distressing data on violence against women and children in Fiji.
Notably, Fiji faces one of the highest regional violence rates, with statistics showing that two-thirds of women and three-quarters of children experience violence within their homes, often at the hands of family members.
Minister Responsible, Ifereimi Vasu expressed deep concern over the commonplace nature of violence and its traumatic impacts, noting the tragic loss of lives and lasting scars left on victims.
“We often discuss these issues yet fail to provide safety for our women and children. It’s time to actively combat this violence and protect them.”
He said he raised this at some Provincial Council meetings this year.
“It will be re-emphasised in the upcoming consultations sessions on the Integrated Village Development Plan.”
“The issue of drugs and violence will be a key topic, challenging village elders to devise effective strategies to address these concerns within iTaukei communities.”
He said iTaukei villages are overseen by Turaga ni Koros and village development committees, which enforce the village council regulations to maintain good governance and well-being including community safety.
Vasu highlighted the upcoming review of the iTaukei Administration will consider integrating drug abuse and violence prevention into existing frameworks.
This includes strengthening the roles of existing committees in each village to respond better to incidents of violence and drug abuse, particularly the nasi ni koro.
“Mechanisms exist to guide affected individuals towards counseling and other services, but more importantly they must ensure that violence cases are referred to appropriate service providers.”
“Village elders will also be encouraged to support victims and ensure that offenders face legal consequences.”
“The onus is on our village communities to act decisively in protecting women and children from harm. This is not a private matter but a community responsibility, especially when lives and well-being are at stake,” he added.
The Ministry is optimistic that this whole-of-village approach or solesolevaki will transform villages into safer environments for women and children.