The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply saddened at the murder of Fijian journalist and women’s rights advocate Losana McGowan in Suva, Fiji, in a domestic violence incident on April 5. The IFJ joins media colleagues across the Pacific in expressing condolences for Losana’s family, friends and media colleagues.
McGowan, a well-known and respected journalist in Fiji, died following a dispute with her partner in their apartment on Easter morning after she was pushed to the ground and sustained a fatal head injury. McGowan had a career spanning over 15 years in journalism and communications working for the Fiji Times, the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, Fiji Media Watch, Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and most recently with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) as their media and communications co-ordinator.
McGowan’s partner, Usaia Kilaverata, appeared before the Suva Magistrates Court charged with her murder. Police prosecutor Corporal Apenisa Keresoni objected to bail and said due to the charge, Kilaverata should be tried in the Fiji’s High Court. The judge agreed to the request and transferred the case which will now be heard on April 17.
Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie paid his respects to Losana McGowan noting that: “Her contribution to the Fiji media industry would be a big loss.”
The Fijian Media Association executive, Stanley Simpson, said: “Losana was a wonderful person, a passionate journalist and communications specialist who will be greatly missed and mourned by the Fiji media fraternity. She always had a smile for her colleagues even in the most difficult of times and often carried those around her with her cheerful nature. The Fijian Media Association is in a state of sorrow over her passing.”
The IFJ Asia Pacific deputy director, Jane Worthington said: “The untimely death of Losana McGowan is a devastating blow to the Pacific media community. We know that female journalists face many challenges doing their jobs every day in Vanuatu and it is utterly tragic to know that some of those women then have same day loans to contend with violence in their own homes.”
The IFJ said discrimination and violence against women have been identified as the most prominent human rights abuses in Vanuatu. The recent IFJ Gender and Media in the Asia-Pacific report on Vanuatu released on March 8 highlighted the efforts being made in the media to confront this critical issue.
“The media plays an critical role in tackling the issue of violence against women,” Jane Worthington said. “But the loss of such a respected campaigner will no doubt have a profound impact. Our deepest sympathies go out to her family at this time.”