“Everyone has a role to play in ending violence against children.” SRSG Maalla M’jid concludes six-day visit to Fiji
Suva, 25 April 2023 - The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, concluded a six-day visit to Fiji (16-21 April) with a call for greater investment in integrated services for violence prevention and response.
“I commend the Government of Fiji for its strong commitment to tackling violence against children. With over 80% of children in Fiji experiencing violence at the hands of caregivers, action cannot wait.1 Preliminary findings from research on the cost of violence in Fiji indicate it amounts to 3.3% of GDP. Spending on child- and gender-sensitive protection and violence prevention will therefore have a high return and must be seen as an investment,” said the Special Representative.
During her visit, the Special Representative met with members of the Government of Fiji, parliamentarians, members of the judiciary, the national human rights institution, police, teachers, social workers, health professionals and civil society organizations, in addition to engaging directly with children and young people during her site visits.
“Everyone has a role to play in ending violence against children. It is essential to put in place a chain of services encompassing health, education, justice, child protection and social protection to support children and families. Building and retaining the social service workforce is part of that. But it also means working directly with children, families and communities. Effective action starts at the grassroots level,” said the Special Representative.
The Special Representative emphasized in her engagements that violence is a violation of children’s human rights, and that culture and tradition cannot be used to justify violence or act as a barrier to reporting violence when it occurs.
“Worldwide, we see many powerful examples of community and religious leaders mobilizing action to end violence. I have had the pleasure to meet such leaders in Fiji as well. Change is possible. To achieve that, it is essential to build on positive social norms that support the creation of safe, nurturing environments for children,” said the Special Representative.
The Special Representative also highlighted the importance of Fiji’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, which will be presented to the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York this July.
 Fiji Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2021: 81% of children aged 1-14 years have experienced violent discipline, where caregivers used physical punishment or psychological aggression to discipline children