Villages, Violence, and Atonement in Fiji

Lynda Newland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Violence Against Women (VAW) is described as severe and pervasive in Fiji because it is estimated that about two-thirds of women and girls can expect to experience violence in their lifetimes. In response, the government has introduced a Domestic Violence decree and raised consciousness in the police force, and both the government and non-government organisations have counselled women and directed them to crisis accommodation. Despite these efforts, VAW remains a normal part of everyday life in much of Fiji. Internationally, the committee formed to enforce ‘The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women’ (CEDAW) has suggested that the indigenous ritual of atonement, the bulubulu, should be eliminated, a view which Sally Engle Merry has critiqued. In this paper, I concentrate on indigenous Fijian (iTaukei) communities to describe traditional village-based methods of atonement and reconciliation, men’s views of domestic violence, village conceptions of community, and the extent to which urban responses are appropriate. In contrast with Merry, I argue that the bulubulu is not able to accommodate iTaukei women’s and girls’ needs; and nor are conventional responses to VAW. Yet the involvement of men in addressing this violence is critical.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGender Violence and Human Rights in the Western Pacific
EditorsAletta Biersack, Martha Macintyre, Margaret Jolly
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherCanberra: ANU Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2015


  • gender-based violence, violence against women, Child abuse, Fiji, bulubulu


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