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Pacific artists and dancers use the creative and performing arts to bring attention to Violence against Women and Girls
Advocating for the elimination of Violence against Women and Girls through arts and drama, the University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Oceania Dance Theatre Group, sponsored by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and in collaboration with other UN agencies, presented “Celebrating Women’s Role: Stop Violence against Women and Girls” to members of the diplomatic community, NGOs, UN agencies and the public on 11 and 12 December at the Suva Civic Centre, Fiji.
This production was spearheaded by Oceania Dance Theatre and Artistic Director, Peter Rockford Espiritu, utilizing the talents of the Oceania Centre for Arts Culture and Pacific Studies at the USP, specifically, Oceania Dance Theatre, Pasifika Voices, under directorship of Igelse Ete and Dave Lavaki.
The artists and dancers used the creative and performing arts as a platform to bring attention to this severe and pervasive problem in the Pacific. “Break the Chain” challenged the audience to consider how prevention may be fostered - each individual’s responsibility and the role of communities.
Rigorous research on violence against women and girls in the Pacific has revealed alarming rates in the region. In Kiribati and in Solomon Islands, 2 out of 3 women aged 15-49 have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by a spouse or other intimate partner, according to studies supported by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community/UNFPA/AusAID. In Fiji, there was an increase of 155% in cases of sexual assault reported to the police between 2003 and 2007. According to the Fiji Reserve Bank, the annual monetary cost of intimate partner violence in Fiji was estimated at 7% of the Gross Domestic Product in 2002.
Domestic violence has many victims; not only the women directly affected. According to UNICEF, children who witness parental domestic violence are at increased risk of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and poor school performance. A study in Tonga showed that adult men who themselves were beaten at home during their childhood were 3 times more likely to beat their own wives compared to men who were not beaten as a child.
The performance included dance, visual imagery, and traditional and contemporary music and was well received by audiences of all ages. Preliminary results of a UNFPA sponsored audience survey carried out by International School of Suva students indicate that many people did not know what Violence against Women was prior to watching the show and were there to learn more. Feedback indicated a strong interest for more drama, TV and newspaper coverage as well as programmes in schools, churches and community groups.
|Date:||11 December 2012|
|Action Type:||Awareness Raising|
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