Farewell 2017

Geraldine Panapasa | Sunday, December 31, 2017
IT'S the last day of 2017 and no doubt celebrations will be at an all-time high as we count down the few remaining hours to the new year.

Like Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are holidays a lot of people look forward to. It's a time when common traditions of new year's celebrations are observed — from parties to whipping up special menus, merrymaking, family bonding, picnics, fireworks displays and making new year's resolutions.

Today would also be a day of reflection for many, as they look back on the year's failures and successes, pinpointing certain aspects of their lives they wish to change for the better, things they could do differently in the new year without regrets.

Some families are likely to spend the day sharing a few laughs over a hearty meal today or a drink of the local brew, enjoying the company of friends and colleagues and reminiscing their new year's day antics.

Others would see the end of the year as a sign to ready their children for the new school year. Budgeting and planning will also come into play as we bid farewell to 2017 and welcome 2018, a year earmarked for Fiji's general election, and no doubt expected to be an interesting phase of our political system.

But today, as party plans begin to unravel in the lead-up to the midnight celebrations, the message from police and community leaders has always been the same — take precautions and exercise vigilance during the festive season. Whether you're out at a picnic, jamming it out at the clubs or street parties, driving or simply walking on the side of the road, always be wary of your surroundings. Disasters and accidents do happen at the most unlikely of times and often when it's least expected. We can avoid these mishaps if we take proactive measures to keep our families, our friends, our colleagues and community safe.

The festive season is usually a time when crime rates soar and the authorities will definitely be on alert, as should everyone else, to curb criminal activities.

On Page 2 today, we are told of a pressing issue that continues to plague our society — domestic violence and rape.

With the year coming to an end, the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre has revealed that it had registered more than 1532 cases comprising domestic violence, rape, attempted rape, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment and others such as land evictions, unresponsive services, legal aid for the year 2017.

Of that number, 1013 were domestic violence cases. The fight to curb this rising problem will intensify in the new year, as revealed by FWCC co-ordinator Shamima Ali, who said they would launch a new shelters project to promote and protect human rights for women and girls or victims of domestic abuse.

It's a universal fight and a challenge that continues to encourage mutual respect for human rights regardless of gender, race, age or religion.

Let's start fresh and make meaningful changes in 2018. Have a safe and prosperous new year.

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