A recent study was conducted by the Fiji School of Medicine and the World Health Organization (WHO) to assess the types of injuries women sustain in domestic violence cases. The goal was to identify these injuries' characteristics and determine whether health professionals are adequately able to manage patients that are victims of violence. The study seeks to fill a gap in information on injuries related to violence against women in Fiji and to recommend a course of action for the Ministry of Health to pursue a stronger system of response and care.
Researchers compiled data from 16 health centers around Fiji beginning in 2005, with 3,027 samples. The report indicates that there were steady increases in the number of recorded cases from 2005-2009, with the exception of 2008. Additionally, research revealed that the majority of female victims of violence are indigenous Fijians.
According to the study, 96% of victims know their assailant. The highest number of perpetrators of violence (45%) were male spouses and current boyfriends. 43% of assailants were close family relatives; 32% were divorced husbands; 29% were neighbors of the victims; 27% were separated husbands; and 26% were ex-boyfriends.
Finally, researchers found that injuries from domestic violence seemed concentrated on the upper body and head. 85% of those injured had facial and scalp injuries; 59% sustained jaw injuries; 50% head injuries; 56% upper limb injuries; and 30% experienced attempted rape.
Dr. Timaima Tuiketei, one of the researchers, indicated that Fiji contributes to the 57,000 deaths from violence in the Western Pacific region. Dr. Tuiketei also maintains in the study that violence places a heavy burden national economies through health care and police expenditures, and that nations suffer a loss of productivity due to that burden and injuries to the victims and society.
The study concludes that it is imperative to conduct more community awareness programs centered around domestic violence throughout Fiji, and that a policy on violence against women and clinical management guidelines should be developed for the Ministry of Health.
Compiled from: WUNRN, Fiji Women's Crisis Center, New Data on Violence, (14 December 2010).