First prize

Women and girls are the most vulnerable when it comes to all forms of violence within a society.

This happens all across the world. Everyday women face some form of sexual violence and it occurs everywhere. This includes public spaces such as the streets, parks, public transportation, schools and workplaces. This violates their human rights to freedom of movement and makes women feel insecure to participate in public life. The sad thing is it remains a largely neglected issue. Therefore this essay seeks to elaborate on how to address violence against women and girls on public transport in Vanuatu. First we will analyze some of the most common forms of violence on public transport and then discuss ways to prevent and address this issue.

Men are often the perpetrators of violence against women and girls. The most common types of abuse on public transport includes offensive gestures, winking, leering looks, hurtful insults, derogatory comments about their body and clothing, unwanted touching, unnecessary leaning or pressing against women/girls, indecent exposure and sexual assault.

Next let’s analyze and discuss some of the ways we can prevent and address violence against women and girls on public transport. This comes under three categories: safe physical environment, prevention and support services, and capacity building.

Fostering a safe physical environment requires developing relevant policies with input from women and girls. It also involves ensuring adequate lighting and clear visibility in and around bus stops, on sidewalks and pathways, and to and from bus stops. There is also a need to install cameras and alarms systems on public transports or around bus stop areas, invest more on security personnel and surveillance, and build more sub police posts on the suburbs and within the communities. We also need to consider women-only buses/reserved seats or more women drivers. We also need to have buses without dark windows and to have the bus registration number and drivers’ name clearly displayed on every bus seat.

Prevention and support services involve designing women friendly transport services. Women who work late at night or in the early morning should have work place designated transport to drop them at their doorstep or closer to their destination. There is also a need to establish a security hotline working around the clock to report incidents of violence through text or call. There is also a need to install local support services to help victims. The Vanuatu National Council of Women, Police, Public Land Transport Authority and other relevant stakeholders should hold campaigns both online and face-to-face to raise awareness and challenge social norms and attitudes and behavior towards violence against women.

Lastly, capacity building involves conducting driver training and getting them certified to operate public transport. Training areas should focus on women’s security and safety issues and gender-sensitive emergency assistance.

To conclude I encourage all people government agencies, development partners, churches, communities, and individual to work together to address and prevent all forms of violence against women and girls to ensure a better peaceful Vanuatu.

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