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IPPF ESEAOR Condemns Violence Against Transgender People and Sex Workers, Urges Immediate Action to Protect Human Rights in Fiji

IPPF ESEAOR strongly condemns the violent attack on Esther, a 19-year-old transgender woman and sex worker in Fiji.

Suva/Kuala Lumpur, 16 April 2024 - The International Planned Parenthood Federation East, Southeast Asia, and Oceania Region (IPPF ESEAOR) strongly condemns the violent attack on Esther, a 19-year-old transgender woman and sex worker in Fiji.

Eyewitnesses report that Esther endured torture and verbal abuse after being forcibly taken from her home in Lautoka by a group of men and women. This appalling incident resulted in severe internal injuries, allegedly leading to her tragic death.

IPPF ESEAOR is gravely concerned by this heinous act, a blatant violation of fundamental human rights — especially the right to life and dignity, freedom of expression, protection from discrimination, and access to fair legal processes and health services. This underscores the critical need for enhanced protection for transgender individuals and sex workers, who are often subjected to pervasive systemic discrimination and stigma.

Political and systemic structures impose multiple forms of discrimination on sex workers. These discriminatory power structures are further intensified by factors such as homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, racism, and classism. Additionally, entrenched gender and social structures hinder the ability of sex workers and the LGBTIQ+ community to fully exercise their human rights.

In Fiji, transgender people, particularly transgender sex workers, face high rates of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), physical abuse, harassment, bullying, stigma, and intimidation. Transgender women are routinely targeted by cyberbullying, with a rising trend of online hate speech.

Sex workers encounter a multitude of barriers to their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Widespread criminalisation, along with stigma and discrimination, not only infringes upon their fundamental human rights—including the right to live free from violence and the right to health—but also restricts their access to equitable sexual and reproductive health services.

“We strongly condemn any form of stigma, discrimination, and violence against the LGBTIQ+ community, transgender individuals, and sex workers, and are committed to fighting stigma and discrimination, changing social norms and societal attitudes about sex work, and improving access to justice and redress,” stated Tomoko Fukuda, IPPF ESEAOR Regional Director.

IPPF ESEAOR stands resolutely with the LGBTIQ+ community, human rights defenders, and allies, amplifying urgent calls for immediate measures to protect and uphold the rights and safety of transgender people and sex workers in Fiji. The safety, rights, health, and dignity of all, especially marginalised groups, must be the foremost priority, reinforcing our commitment to human rights.

Notes to editors:

The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is a global healthcare provider and a leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. Led by a courageous and determined group of women, IPPF was founded in 1952, and today, it is a movement of 150 member associations and collaborative partners with a presence in over 146 countries. IPPF East & Southeast Asia and Oceania Region (ESEAOR), based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is one of IPPF’s six regional offices with a Sub Regional Office for the Pacific in Suva, Fiji.


For more information and media enquiries, contact:

Malarvili Meganathan,
Regional Communications, Voice & Media Advisor,
East, Southeast Asia and Oceania Region
[email protected]