Photo Credit: Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade
The Revd Sereima Lomaloma, Ministry Officer in the diocese of Polynesia, and a trustee of the House of Sarah, writes about how the Church is taking a stand in Fiji, which has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world.
[Church Times, by Sereima Lomaloma] Fiji has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. Studies suggest that about two-thirds of women who have ever been in an intimate relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. When emotional violence is included, the number rises to 74 per cent. From the age of 15, 31 per cent of women and girls were subject to physical or sexual assault by non-partners. Statistics from Tonga and Samoa are just as high.
Globally, violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread human-rights violations, but one of the least-prosecuted crimes. Against this backdrop, the predominant perception is that the Church is an institution complicit, by silence, in the perpetuation of violence. The Church is not seen often enough speaking out and making a stand against violence against women, or proactively correcting misinterpretations of particular biblical texts used to justify physical abuse. Many look on the Church as a gatekeeper, a conservative force resistant to change — or, worse, as denying that violence occurs within its own community.
In the past seven years, the diocese of Polynesia, part of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, has been among the faith-based organisations in Fiji and Oceania in the forefront of advocacy for a stronger prophetic voice against this scourge. We believe that there is a gospel imperative to take action.
- Click here to read Sereima Lomaloma’s full article on the Church Times’ website.