Fiji Times 'When one hurts, we are all hurt' Saturday August 27th
WHEN one transgender woman is hurt, we are all hurt because we are connected through our experiences and reality.
This was the comment made by Haus of Khameleon's Creative Director Sulique Waqa in response to the recent case of a 22-year-old transgender woman who was raped and burnt to death in Turkey early this week.
"Whether she lives in Istanbul, Bangkok, Turkey or Suva, the violence affects us all and we in Fiji are still susceptible to multiple forms of violence and discrimination," Ms Waqa said.
"Although we are seeing a marked increase in public awareness about transgender people, we are still part of a community that experiences high rates of unemployment, poverty and violence.
"The murder of the Turkish transgender woman is a clear indication of the current reality that transgender people are forced to live with and transgender people in Fiji are still fearful for their lives and many do not report cases of violence and abuse they face within their families, community, schools and workplaces."
Ms Waqa said certain venues and public spaces in Fiji were hostile areas for transgender women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersexual and queer (LGBIQ) community.
"While there are many ways to support transgender people, including activism, the most effective way to shrink the number of murders in the future is to compile and release accurate statistics that would show these crimes for what they are."
FIJI TIMES Link: Published SATURDAY AUGUST 27TH, 2016
FiJI TIMES 'Hannah wins crown' Saturday August 20th, 2016
Hannah Mara took top awards during the Adi Senikau Pageant at the Vodafone Fiji Hibiscus Festival 2016 last night.
Adi Senikau Pageant chairperson Sulique Waqa said the pageant provided a platform for the transgender community to highlight issues that affected them.
The power of technology in the fight for equal rights is undeniable, from large tech companies successfully rallying against North Carolina’s anti-gay law this past May to social apps that enable queer people to find each other and communicate. That said, technology is only as powerful as the people who use it (hopefully for good), and the Out in Tech Digital Corps aims to leverage its 10,000+ members in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in support of the amazing work of ten organizations from Brazil, Egypt, Fiji, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe among others.
FIJI TIMES 'Pacific Flavour for adi senikau pageant' THURSDAY JULY 7TH, 2016
THIS year's Adi Senikau pageant will have transgender participants from around the Pacific region.
Creative director of the Haus of Khameleon and co-ordinator of the Adi Senikau pageant Sulique Waqa said this year they had interests from the reigning Miss Transsexual NZ, Miss Transsexual Australia, reigning Miss Galaxy Tonga, a contestant from Solomon Islands, a contestant from Samoa and the rest from Fiji.
"Over the years I have opened up the Adi Senikau pageant to include transgender participants from around the Pacific," she said.
"This is not about competition, but about intercultural exchanges and solidarity as well within the broader trans women's movement in the Pacific.
"This is also in line with our plan to host the first-ever regional transgender pageant during the Miss South Pacific Pageant in Fiji next year.
"We will confirm the rest of the Pacific countries once we get a confirmation from the community and networks in those countries. So yeah, technically we have kind of crossed over from being a national to a regional pageant."
Ms Waqa said she had been co-ordinating the Adi Senikau pageant for the past seven years.
"The show has evolved tremendously over the years since its inception," she said.
"It has gone beyond from just being a show for entertainment to a pageant that uses the Adi Senikau as an important platform for the transgender community to lead their own activities and take ownership of their own narratives.
"It's about reclaiming spaces and shifting conversations, most importantly it is about celebrating the transgender community as members of our community who contribute to the development of society."
FIJI TIMES 'WOMEN OF THE NIGHT' jULY 25TH, 2016
NGO Haus of Khameleon is a movement that is led by transgender women, for transgender women and executive director Sulique Waqa said discrimination was rife against the transgender community.
"From our community engagement and consultation with trangender members who are sex workers, we have found out that their daily struggles with discrimination and unemployment in Fiji forced them into the sex industry as a means to survive," Ms Waqa said.
"These are transgender women who range from high-class escorts to street sex workers because they can't find mainstream employment.
"The sex industry has had a lot of impact on their overall wellbeing.
"One of our members revealed while she doesn't like what she does, it is also the only time she feels desired and wanted for being exactly who she is.
"Some transgender people who go through gender reaffirming and hormonal transition find it too expensive to keep up with the charge and supply for their treatment in Fiji particularly when it is hard to access these treatments locally so sex work is their easy way of earning cash to purchase them.
"Many of these transgender sex workers are shunned by their own families and have left home. Some had to escape because of the violence and abuse they receive at home.
"Sex work in Fiji is driven by economic factors and cannot be legislated away."
Ms Waqa said the transgender community was not understood and grossly mistreated.
"In 2011 transgender sex workers in Lautoka were rounded up and taken to military bases where they were forced to strip, roll in the mud and their wigs and bra were burnt," she said.
"We received reports where these sex workers were told to put on traffic cones on their head and leap one leg up to their knees while pulling their ears and told to repeat the words 'I will never sell myself again'."
Ms Waqa said increasing number of transgender sex workers was an indicator on the behaviour of the community.
"Fiji has come a long way in terms of legal and constitutional protection of lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer Fijians. In 1997 Fiji was the second country in the world to explicitly have 'sexual orientation' protected in the Bill of Rights under the 1997 Constitution.
"Sixteen years later, Fiji's supreme law extended constitutional protection of LGBTIQ people and included gender identity and gender expression under the 2013 Bill of Rights," she said.
"We have made some progressive stance in the past but it has not trickled down to the fundamental realisation and protection of the rights of LGBTIQ people who face violence, bullying, stigma, and discrimination on a daily basis.
"Let alone address the particular vulnerability that transgender women face who are at the forefront of human rights violation in this country and often overlooked in our strategies and responses.
"In Octobr 2015, the High Court of Fiji dismissed a case of a transgender woman who was seeking legal gender recognition.
"Challenging homophobia/transphobia and changing people's attitudes and behaviours towards LGBTIQ people must go hand in hand with making sure that our laws and policies are reflective of these priorities."
Transgender men and women are highly marginalised in terms of access to employment, health care and housing, and also endure disproportionate amounts of discrimination and violence.
Many enter sex work as a means to survive.
FIJI TIMES 'Activists: Human rights is for everybody' MAY 18, 2016
That was the message stressed by a Khameleon activist during the commemoration of International Day against Homophobia & Transphobia at the French Embassy's residence in Suva yesterday. Haus of Khameleon activist Sulique Waqa said Fiji had made some progress under the Constitution's Bill of Rights but "we still have a long way to go in terms of these laws to be implemented and enforced".Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people have the right to live their life free from violence, discrimination and abuse," Ms Waqa said. Fiji Times Link: Wednesday 18th May, 2016
Police Commissioner, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho responds to Haus of Khameleon statement about the Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama's statement on the Fiji Sun front page.
Walk against climate change - Atasa Moceituba Sunday, November 29, 2015
Haus of Khameleon creative director and transgender activist Sulique Waqa said the parade was also another opportunity for participants, government officials and representatives from various non-government organisations to discuss and talk about how climate change could be addressed.
"Climate change is real and we're one of the Pacific Island countries who are currently experiencing the severe effects of climate change," Mr Waqa said. "This is urgent or Fiji and we need to all come together and express our views on how we can address the issue."
Mr Waqa said the severe impacts of climate change should be discussed in provincial meetings so that people were aware of what was going on around them. Fiji Times Link: Sunday November 29, 2015
FIJI will today join nations all over the world to mark 16 days of activism to end gender violence.
According to UN Women findings every year, millions of women and girls worldwide suffer some form of violence.
"Be it domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation, dowry-related killing, trafficking, sexual violence in conflict-related situations or other manifestations of abuse," UN Women said.
"Globally, one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence at some point in her life. In the Pacific, that percentage doubles. No country is immune from violence against women and girls, or exempt from the responsibility to put an end to it.
"It is not a women's issue, it's everybody's issue and everyone has a part to play in eliminating it."
According to Ellie van Baaren, UN Women Regional Communications and Media Specialist said a range of nation-wide activities had been organised to raising more public awareness on ending gender violence.
A NIGHT IN MY SHOES - Fiji Times August 20, 2015
FemLINKPACIFIC in partnership with the Haus of Khameleon conducted a two-day media advocacy and communications training focusing on this year's Adi Senikau theme A Night In My Shoes.
This year the contestants are from regional countries including Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands who are all vying for the Adi Senikau Crown that is held by Fatima Gyllenhall from Tonga who won last year.
Creative Director of the Haus of Khameleon and Co-ordinator of the Adi Senikau pageant, Sulique Waqa, said: "Since 2010, I've personally been involved in the organisation of the pageant and for us, as the trans-community, it is a very important platform to voice issues and create visibility."
"In terms of the FemLINKPACIFIC and Haus of Khameleon partnership, it has been two years since the start of Rainbow Connections on FemTALK89FM and working together around Adi Senikau signifies the birth of a new wave of the trans-revolution in the Pacific."
Executive producer/director of FemLINKPACIFIC, Sharon Bhagwan Rolls said, "our commitment as an organisation has always been to enable women, in all their diversities, to come to a space that they tell their own stories and to then find ways, from their sharing and experiences, to make change".
She said it was vital that the community heard the messages the Adi Senikau contestants to understand what it really was like to spend a night in their shoes - but without the fear of violence and prejudice and instead a walk that enjoys the rights with dignity we all deserve - free and equal."