Constitution Day

This past week has been a bit of a face-palm kind. But the kind that causes deep migraine throbs through the sections of your brain you’d rather kept shut.

Two things this week. One the public holiday last Monday to mark Fiji’s Constitution Day (something only a few countries in the world observe) and a vigil organised in Suva to remember women lost to domestic violence this year (stats show Fiji’s domestic violence rates as one of the highest in the world.)

I was quite intrigued by the #OurConstitution campaign that the Fiji Government (or their highly paid PR agency) ran with school children. I think back to my own childhood and don’t recall a single time when the constitution was ever discussed in our household. While there were several things my parents simply left or assumed will be taught in schools (because that’s what they were paying the fees for!), a lot also had to do with that I grew up in very patriarchal extended family. Right down to the clothes women could wear in our family was often dictated by the men. I remember every time we went to our paternal grandparents village, Suruj would always take a odhni to cover her head. Though I grew up in urban Viti, the village always dictated our lives in the big town. It’s probably a good thing Hindus burn our dead, had we buried them – the men of my family would be turning in their graves seeing how I’ve turned out today!

So I think it perhaps served no purpose in an household like ours to discuss things like the constitution and what our basic rights as children, as women, as humans were under the country’s regulations. As eye-rolling as some of those videos were to watch this week (because it’s obviously some teacher or parent whose made them ratta-maro those lines!), I was somewhat glad that young children of Viti today at least know what a constitution is.

Saying that, the 2013 constitution is not something that everyone on my island nation is happy with (…and let’s leave that for another day). The antics in the parliament house we’ve all been seeing for the past few weeks, look I wouldn’t say appalling (because that’s what politics is all about) is mind-tiring. Such an uproar because a female MP swore (because damn-well she can) but then when you see a group of diaspora Fijians chanting swears in protest as the Prime Minister waddles around in Sydney – you cannot help but think what a bunch of dimwits we all really are. Like there’s a large number on my social media timelines doing a count of days and waiting for an apology for that collar-jerking and then there’s the other half who have absolutely no idea what’s happening in the land of Fiji politics, what a constitution is and why there was a public holiday on Monday but they certainly put up photos of Fiji Bitter cartons they emptied over the weekend! If the local natak wasn’t enough this week, Boris in the Queen’s Land and Trump as usual in the Land of Dreams certainly made up for the rest.

But what made my heart really hurt this week is while we are all caught up in the idiocy of our democratic choice, there are women who are being beaten to death. As this week comes to an end, for some reason all I can mull over is – what did these women think of our constitution?

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