Where is Fiji Located?

The Fiji Islands are located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, north of New Zealand and east of Australia. Fiji is comprised of 333 islands, of which about 100 are inhabited. Homes of Hope is based on the largest island, Viti Levu, which has an area of about 10,400 sq. km (4,100 sq. mi.), and is home to 70% of the country's population.

What Language(s) is Spoken in Fiji?

Fiji has three “official” languages: English, Fijian and Hindustani. English is spoken by many people, but at varied levels of proficiency and Fijian is spoken by more than half the population as a first language. Hindustani is spoken by many of the Indians who live in Fiji.

What is Fij's Climate?

Fiji's tropical marine climate varies from region to region. The western (leeward) side of Viti Levu Island is known for its dry days with clear skies. In contrast, the eastern (windward) side of the island is subject to cloudy skies, which bring frequent rains and moderate sunshine. The Central Interior Region's higher elevation brings daily rain during the rainy season, producing lush tropical rain forest.

What is Fiji's Culture?

Fiji's culture is a rich mosaic of Indigenous Fijian (iTaukei), Indo-Fijian, Asian and European traditions, comprising social policy, language, food (based mainly from the sea, plus casava, dalo (taro) and other vegetables), costume, belief systems, architecture, arts, craft, music, dance and sports.

iTaukei culture and tradition is very vibrant and is an integral component of everyday life for the majority of Fiji's population. However, Fijian society has also evolved over the past century with the introduction of more recent traditions, such as Indian and Chinese, as well as heavy influences from Europe and Fiji's Pacific neighbours – particularly Tonga and Samoa.

Traditionally, Fijian society is based on communal principles and is led by a hereditary chief. Today, village life is still the foundation of Fijian society.

How Does Forced Sex Differ in the South Pacific?

Cultural Differences: Fiji, like many other nations in the South Pacific, is a shame-based culture and is a gender-unequal society. This means that sex trafficking does not have the same connotation as it does in Western cultures. Oftentimes, it is perceived as the woman’s fault that she was trafficked or raped simply because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever the case, it is perceived as her fault. This is why we use the term forced sex, and not trafficking.

Families: In some instances, a family will knowingly sell their daughter to a boss or a foreigner in order to make ends meet. The daughter is expected to “earn her keep”.

Lack of Resources: Many islands in the South Pacific lack the proper resources to deal with human trafficking and sex-trade. Recently, Fijian police forces have been formulating specialized units to deal with the complex and heinous crimes of sex trafficking and forced sex.

Lack of Education: In societies where cultural norms and patriarchal attitudes promote gender inequality, propels sexual slavery. Educating village chiefs, pastors, women and other lay leaders on gender equality, the realities of trafficking, how to identify it and report it, is critical in putting a stop to forced sex practices.

Lack of Prosperity: Many islanders struggle with unemployment and poverty making them especially vulnerable to the forced sex trade. Women and children who fall victim to these crimes are often lured in by the promise of money and an opportunity to make a living and support their families. By offering women legitimate vocation training; they are gifted freedom, dignity and the chance for a flourishing personal livelihood outside of the sex-trade.