16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence begins

‘STOP THE VIOLENCE’ is printed on their shirt. These children were part of the parade from Moorings through town, to mark the International

Day to eliminate Violence against women and the 16 Days of Activism against Gender violence.

By Glenda Shing

Vanuatu has joined many countries around the world to mark the beginning of the 16-day campaign against all forms of domestic violence across the world.

Based on the theme, “Orange your Neighborhood- End violence against women and girls”, the message was to reach out to one’s neighbours and raise awareness amongst the communities about the global pandemic of violence against women and girls and bring about solutions.

Delivering the speech on behalf of the Prime Minister, the Director General of Justice stated, “Vanuatu is regarded as one of the countries in the Pacific with the highest rate of domestic violence. One survey by the Vanuatu Women Centre reveals that there are about 87% of the women living in Vanuatu have at some stage experienced various forms of domestic violence. And about 3 in every 5 women are facing ongoing domestic violence in their daily lives”.

According to DG Bebe, the alarming statistics meant that despite the fact that Vanuatu has signed the CEDAW Conventions and the enactment of the Family Protection Act, “women and children continue to suffer silently in our midst. There is a continued non-enforcement of the laws, particularly with regards to the Domestic and Family Protection Act”.

Bebe revealed that the Department of Correctional Services statistics and Courts records indicate that over 70% of all the cases going to the court and prisons are about moral offenses.

“In all the sexual and abusive behavior that is reported and went to court, over 60% consists of physical violence and rape”.

The sad thing about domestic violence, according to the DG of Justice is that the perpetrators range from some of the most well educated and high officials in government to those in the remote communities, who are also involved in domestic violence, unfortunately, those in the government and public offices are the ones whose crimes have not been reported, and or prosecuted.

Given these shocking situations that Vanuatu women are facing, on behalf of the Prime Minister, the DG of Justice called on the general public to respect the 16 day period that has been set aside by the UN and make it a must to record no domestic violence in each home.

“We all must work together to fight this primitive behavior, and to ensure peace reigns in our homes, while our children and women felt safe and social justice is enjoyed by everyone”, the DG concluded.

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