Concerns raised by FWRM about some men believing that any family planning initiated by women must have their consent
The Fiji women’s rights movement is concerned about recent media coverage questioning women’s access to reproductive health services in Fiji.
They say that of all the socio-economic issues that this Ministry of Health consultation could focus on, limiting the rights of women and girls to make informed reproductive health decisions was the only concern regarding women’s issues.
FWRM wonders why the high rates of sexual offences, domestic violence and sexual harassment that the majority of men and boys commit against women and girls in this country are not the main priority area of concern. They also asked why the men are talking about the need for better access to health services and resources for women and girls in their communities, and why is this consultation even given a national platform that does not will only perpetuate violence and discrimination against women and girls when they take proactive measures with their reproductive health.
FWRM advises that when conversations about women’s bodies are generated in national discussions, duty bearers such as state officials must be careful not to further perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes.
They say Fiji has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world, with over 60% of Fijian women experiencing gender-based violence at least once in their lifetime.
FWRM says now is not the time to stoke rhetoric about how a woman makes decisions about her own reproductive health.
They say now is the time to take a stand against harmful rhetoric that can be used as an excuse to further perpetuate violence against women.
The Movement affirms that women are not the property of their husbands and should not be treated as such. They also reiterate Fiji’s commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) by taking all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the area of health care. to ensure, on a basis of equality between men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.
The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement asserts that these are concrete obligations that the state itself has agreed to be bound by and cannot refuse to implement.
They say that every day women and girls suffer some form of gender-based violence or worse, lose their lives.
According to the FWRM, women and girls perform the majority of unpaid care work and are employed in less secure jobs than men.
They say women and girls are on the front lines of the impact of tropical disasters and global pandemics. One of the leading causes of death among women is reproductive cancer and the problems are myriad.
FWRM says that if the men are really keen to be involved from the start, then couples counseling is always available so that there is a perspective from both sides on which family planning method to use, the rationale, the symptoms and risks, and long-term health benefits for women.
By: Vijay Narayan
The Minister of Health’s response in the Itaukei language was that husband and wife should be part of the family planning counseling process.
These are the words of the Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr James Fong, who said in a statement that he wished to correct media reports regarding concerns raised with the Minister of Health, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete about women who acquire contraceptives without the knowledge of their partners.
Dr Fong says recordings of the discussion which took place in the iTaukei language at the Lomaiviti Provincial Council meeting in Levuka on Wednesday show the Nairai district representative stressing the need for partners to know, “me rau kila vata (they should both know)” of this process.
Dr. Fong points out that Dr. Waqainabete also alluded to the proven fact that counseling involving both partners in all family planning matters is a good way to promote family values.
He says the minister is committed to highlighting this need for couples counseling to family planning medical staff and encouraging the practice.
Dr. Fong says it bears repeating that the discussion did not infer the need for consent from both partners, but emphasized the concept of couples counselling; a concept that is regularly promoted in family planning circles.