As the Safe and Equal Online Spaces – Pacific Cyber Safety Symposium gets underway in Suva tomorrow, Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Coordinator, Shamima Ali says we need to urgently focus on awareness and enforcement on issues relating to Technology Facilitated Gender Based Violence.
Ali says Fiji and the Pacific as a whole has high rates of violence against women and children in this country, and within that, we have seen a significant increase in gender based violence based on new technology.
She says there is a terrible case, where a person had put a camera in a woman’s bedroom and was sending her photos and videos – and the sad situation is that the case has continued for some time.
Ali says there are cases where women’s profiles are being put up saying they are available for sex and other cases where older men are enticing young girls, and then eventually raping or sexually assaulting them.
She also says Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Kiribati have one of the highest rates of gender based violence in the world.
Ali says the global rate is 1 out of 3 women however Fiji’s rate is 2 out of 3 women suffer from intimate partner violence, and that is physical, sexual, emotional and the added dimension of online violence.
Being held in Suva from tomorrow to Thursday, the Pacific Cyber Safety Symposium is convened by the Pacific Community (SPC) through its Pacific Women Lead at SPC, in partnership with Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, and supported by the Australian Government. As a member of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP), SPC is collaborating with other CROP partners: the University of the South Pacific (USP) as Chair of the CROP ICT Working Group, and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) as lead of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
SPC Principal Strategic Lead – Pacific Women and Girls, Mereseini Rakuita, explained how Pacific partners must work together to provide a safer digital ecosystem that supports rather than works against girls and women.
Rakuita says technology can assist women and girls to participate in education, contributing to the creation of a generation of women in the workplace who have the skills and confidence to use digital platforms to promote their economic participation and empowerment.
In a first for the Pacific, the regional symposium brings together 100 plus key stakeholders from across the region working to address online safety, particularly technology-facilitated gender-based violence.
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