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FIJI: Female candidate harassed on social media over involvement in politics

Fiji female politician Roshika Deo has received negative comments about herself on social media. Image:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Item: 8442

SYDNEY (ABC Radio Australia / Pacific Media Watch): A female Fijian candidate has been receiving threats, including threats of rape, on social media for standing in next year's promised elections. 

Roshika Deo, who had been using the internet as a campaigning tool, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat programme she had been the subject of vicious personal attacks.

"I think it initially started when my intention to stand for election was declared in the local newspaper," the independent candidate said.

"There is a lot of objection because of my age, my gender.

"And there's also [some] sentiment being expressed because of my ethnicity." 

Deo said many women in politics speak about similar attacks.

Gender comments
Many of the comments posted on Deo's Facebook page were gender-related.

"As usual she blames patriarchy for everything. Seriously, can’t she come up with a better line or slogan?" one Facebook user said.

"Since your entire campaign is based on a crusade to save women from this still mysterious discrimination that exists in our society, the onus is on you to tell us what it is exactly that you’re talking about," another Facebook user said.

Deo said she wanted social media to be a forum for debate around the issues, rather than personal attacks.

"The issues that we currently are looking at are women and children, education and health," she said.

"Also, we are focusing on land and environment, also looking at accountability and transparency in terms of increasing the accountability and also creating awareness of public accountability and enabling those forms of public accountability.

"Right now we are in the process of developing policies around the issues."

Women support
Deo said while most men are making personal attacks against her, there were many others who support her.

"As you've seen, the majority of men prefer to attack, but there are a lot that have come out to support," she said.

"We are getting a lot of support from young people...we are getting a lot of support from women."

Last year, the Fiji government said it wanted more women in decision-making bodies and particularly in the new government to be elected in 2014.

Fiji's Minister for Women Dr Jiko Luveni said her department was working to identify potential women who may want to stand for the next elections and would provide leadership training to any potential women candidates.

Dr Luveni said women made up about 49 per cent of the voting population and without them Fiji would not be able to achieve real development.

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Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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