Many people believe these trends are only applicable to other countries within the Asia and African region and that Fiji’s prevalence rates are but a drop in the ocean, which needs not to be addressed. Yet the rise of opposition to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Fiji is a development that needs to be addressed by young people who are at the centre of such demise.
Every young person that is part of RFHAF’s INFO GEN (INFOrmed GENeration) participates in events such as SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month); International Women’s Day (IWD); Menstrual Hygiene Day; National Youth Day, Pinktober, Movember and the 16 Days of Activism to name a few. Young people engage in awareness raising, peer education activities, outreach campaigns in schools and their communities in advocating Adolescent Sexual & Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR). RFHAF has three offices in Fiji (Suva, Lautoka and Labasa) that implement youth programs for in and out of school youths.
Some of the Campaigns organised by the RFHAF INFO GEN are:
SAAM 2018 – What Were You Wearing (WWYW)
What Were You Wearing? was an art exhibit based on survivor descriptions of the clothes they were wearing during the time the survivor was sexually assaulted. These stories were collected from survivors by the young people, with the survivors consent. The youths then recreated the outfits the survivors had on based on their experiences. The exhibit was placed at the Fiji Museum for the month of April. The exhibit’s intent, was to raise awareness on sexual assault is not about the clothes one wears.
SAAM 2019 – I ASK, ASC (Always Seek Consent) Meh Nice
This campaign was designed to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it. The theme, I Ask, champions the message that asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions. Consent is an asset to moulding healthy, equal and equitable relationships. The slogan ASC Meh Nice was suggested by the youths of Suva Branch since it was a popular slang among the young people in 2019.
IWD 2020 – Each for Equal, It begins with ME
An equal world is an enabled world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world. Let’s all be #EachforEqual.
[Lifted from the campaign explanation]
Youths from our Lautoka branch, inserted the tag line – “It begins with me” correlating to the second sentence (we are responsible for our own thoughts and actions)
Comprehensive sexuality education is a rights-based and gender-focused approach to sexuality education, among in school or out of school youths. Comprehensive Sexuality Education covers a broad range of issues relating to both the physical and biological aspects of sexuality, and the emotional and social aspects. It recognizes and accepts all people as sexual beings and is concerned with more than just the prevention of disease or pregnancy.
CSE also goes beyond acquisition of accurate information, it also assist young people to explore and nurture positive values; Open-mindedness; respect for self and others; positive self-worth/esteem; comfort; non- judgmental attitude; sense of responsibility; positive attitude toward their sexual and reproductive health.
It also helps young people develop life skills such as critical thinking skills; communication and negotiation skills; self-development skills, decision making skills; sense of self; confidence; assertiveness; ability to take responsibility; ability to ask questions and seek help; etc.
RFHAF Youths come together at the end of the year for their Annual Camp which is known as the ‘Be the Change Camp’. Be the Change is adopted from the famous quote of Mahatma Ghandi; “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” The annual camp is a time of reflection on youth activities, what worked well, the challenges and the way forward. The camp would consist of thirty young people, RFHAF staff and volunteers.
The RFHAF mentoring programme runs in two tiers and that is among staff and volunteers. Among the staff, it is the allocation of a senior staff to a junior staff. The volunteers mentoring program is in two tiers; the Volunteer Board and RFHAF Info Gens. With the RFHAF Volunteer Board the mentoring is between the older board members (second term on the board) with the new members (first year on the board).
The RFHAF Youths is then further divided into two among the INFO GEN and the other is among the RFHAF girls programme. The RFHAF INFO GEN mentoring is in three stratums whereby the 10 – 14 year olds are looked mentored by the 15 – 19 year olds; the 15 – 19 year olds are mentored by the 20 – 24 years and the 20 – 24 year olds are coached and supervised by the graduates of INFO GENS who have turned 25.
The RFHAF INFO GENS are the backbone of the organisation’s information dissemination to young people. The young people are trained to become peer educators in adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights. The peer education training lasts ten days in which four days is utilised for knowledge updates; four days for skill development and two days mock exercise and reflections. RFHAF’s clinical service is able to provide ASRH (Adolescent Sexual & Reproductive Health) clinical services to young people through the endless efforts of the INFO GENS peer educators.
RFHAF also runs program for young people in Basic Counselling Skills, which engages young people to counsel peers. The Peer Counselling programme requires the young people to go through a ten day training program which consists of knowledge, basic counselling skills, values clarification process and simulation exercises. At the end of the training each peer counsellor receives a referral booklet which they will use to refer their peers to the RFHAF clinic.