30 Oct 2014

Fiji defends violence against women record

4:36 pm on 30 October 2014

Fiji has defended its record on dealing with violence against women before a UN human rights meeting in Geneva.

Several countries attending the Universal Periodic Review of Fiji at the Human Rights Council raised questions about how Fiji is dealing with high violence rates.

The country's permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Nazhat Shameem, said there may have been some misunderstanding about what's happening in Fiji which has brought in a gender policy and laws to encourage women to come forward.

"Many women find it very very hard to report gender-based violence because of institutional and social and cultural barriers therefore the biggest challenge that Fiji recognises is how to break that dark figure down and encourage reporting."

Ms Shameem says as well as new laws on domestic violence, child welfare, and sexual assault, police and other officials receive training to break down traditional attitudes.