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October 01, 2013

American Domestic Violence Experts Travel to Fiji

October 2013

From June 1–9, six U.S.-based experts in anti-domestic violence advocacy traveled to Suva, Fiji, to meet with counterparts and conduct a two-day colloquium for local stakeholders and community members. The trip, which was part of the ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) regional Pacific Fellows Women’s Rights Program, included a meeting with the U.S. Ambassador to Fiji Frankie Reed.

U.S. Fellow Jessica Li (second from right) talks with women from informal settlements about factors that lead to violence in their communities.

This was the fourth exchange trip between experts from  Pacific Islands nations and the United States under this program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

ABA ROLI coordinated with the University of the South Pacific and FemLINK Pacific to organize meetings between the American fellows and religious leaders, law students, women from informal settlements, and representatives from organizations that work in small and remote communities to raise awareness of domestic violence. During her meeting with the American fellows, Ambassador Reed emphasized the importance of combatting violence against women, while the U.S. fellows shared their initial thoughts on the similarities and differences between the challenges women face in the U.S. and in the Pacific Islands. The fellows also spoke on FemLINK Pacific’s community radio station about their work in the United States.

In addition, the fellows conducted a colloquium on creating a community-wide response to end domestic violence. The colloquium, which was attended by more than 70 people, focused on the need for collaboration and coordination among private citizens and service providers to address the problem of domestic violence at a community level. Participants praised the event. Many of them said that their participation would make them better advocates and expressed their hopes for more trainings and networking opportunities. The fellows also said that the trip was a rewarding, positive experience, which sparked their interest in doing more international work and in learning more about other cultures. One of them added that the trip gave her a “real understanding of how things work in another place. You can read about it, but until you really talk to people, you don’t understand.”

To learn more about our work in the Pacific, please contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].