Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama
I have been made aware of statements by SODELPA member Mosese Bulitavu, where he stereotyped Indo-Fijian women as being promiscuous and made the ridiculous claim that Indo-Fijian men are the only ones who use knives to commit acts of horrific violence against women.
He went on to claim that iTaukei men only beat iTaukei women because they are bigger than them. Worse, he insinuated that iTaukei women should be thankful these beatings are not carried out with weapons.
Display of ignorance
Bulitavu’s statements are an insult to the women of Fiji on two fronts.
He is not only showing his ignorance by putting forward harmful and dishonest ethnic stereotypes, which are racist. But behind his statements lurks a deeply-seeded and deadly patriarchal mentality.
And he has proven once again that he and his Party are entirely incapable of seeing the complexity behind serious issues, like domestic violence in Fiji, and delivering solutions that address the real reasons for these societal ills.
Domestic violence is not some new phenomena, nor was it brought to Fiji by any group.
It is an issue that is – and has always been – a direct result of patriarchal mindsets that see women as inferior and as objects to be abused at will.
Men don’t commit abuse because they are a certain ethnicity.
Men don’t commit abuse because they may be bigger or stronger.
Men commit abuse because they are small-minded and weak.
By hiding behind racist stereotypes rather than calling out the individuals who make the horrific choice to abuse their partners, Bulitavu has proven himself small-minded as well.
Since the start of my time as Prime Minister, I have taken every opportunity to denounce violence, in all forms, against all women.
I have called for a whole of society approach that addresses the root cause of this problem and helped lead real action to keep women and young girls safe from abuse.
But statements, such as those from Bulitavu, jeopardise that entire national effort by entrenching our society in a vicious cycle of violence that excuses abusers and refuses to acknowledge the mentalities that fuel their reprehensible behaviour.
I will not tolerate it, and neither will the Fijian people.
It is disheartening, yet unsurprising, that SODELPA’s leadership has failed to condemn Bulitavu’s reliance on racist stereotypes to cover for abusers in Fiji.
Since putting forward the backwards notion that some Fijians can be considered “vulagis” in their own country, SODELPA has proved themselves to be a party that endorses outright racism. They are not a compassionate Party. They are not leadership that listens.
They are a Party that constantly seeks to divide us along ethnic lines, along provincial lines and now along gender lines as well.
It is not lost on anyone that not a single member, including any women members, from any Opposition party has hit back against Bulitavu’s ignorance as well.
On an issue of this importance, their silence is just as damaging as the statements themselves.
For the sake of our women, our young girls and victims of domestic violence, I call on all Fijians to join me in condemning Bulitavu’s bigotry and racism and in condemning any political party which seeks to divide our people, excuse domestic violence and drag our society back into the past.
Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama is Prime Minister of Fiji. He issued the above statement in the wake of the comments made by SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu
- Bainimarama (left) and Bulitavu (right) Photo by Fiji Broadcasting Corporation
- Comments of Mosese Bulitavu (Courtesy: Fiji Broadcasting Corporation)