[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Christian leaders in Fiji have united to declare that gender-based violence is a sin, in an advert shown on cinema screens and national television. The 60-second advert has been shown during Fiji television’s main evening news for the past three weeks and before films in 16 cinemas in Suva, Lautoka and Nadi. The video was the idea of Anglican Archbishop Winston Halapua, who received 100 per cent backing from other Fijian Christian leaders, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia said.
Coptic, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Methodist, evangelical, Salvation Army and independent churches have all backed the advert, which was produced by the communications department of Fiji’s Methodist Church.
The ministry officer for the diocese of Polynesia, the Revd Sereima Lomaloma, said that it was a “sadly relevant message” in a country where 64 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 have been the victim of “intimate partner violence”.
The advertising campaign is part of increasing participation by Fijian churches in Break the Silence Sunday, observed on the Sunday immediately prior to 25 November – the UN-backed international Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – and the start of the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence.
In 2013, the Polynesia diocesan synod declared “zero tolerance” for violence against women and children in Anglican churches, schools, communities and homes.