Preventing and responding to violence against women and girls

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BY ELLISON.T.VAHI

 

WITH inequalities facing women and girls, there is a desirable need to address this gender inequality.

According to the Solomon islands Family Health and Safety Study, women between ages 15 – 49 who had ever been in a close relationship reported experiencing physical and sexual violence by an intimate partner.

Violence against women is an epidemic in the Solomon Islands and as such women who experienced close violence or other forms of violence were more said to be likely to report poorer health outcomes than those who did not.

From this shift from a welfare to a gender and development approach has been made to address gender inequalities facing women and girls and to ensure that gender equality is central to development.

From this, the Ministry for Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs (MWYCFA) is proud to present the Gender Equality and Women’s Development Policy GEWD 2016-2020.

On the other hand, GEWD 2010 – 2013 is the second policy the Solomon Islands Government has ever produced taking both gender equality and women’s development approach.

It is understood that despite a range of interventions led by both government and civil society organisations, a stronger coordinated approach to ending violence against women and girls is require.

Weakness in legal, judicial and protection mechanisms, which undermine efforts by government and civil society, and the government’s weak capacity to build coordinated responses seemed continues to be a challenge.

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The difficulty and rooted nature of violence against women makes elimination one of the Solomon Islands biggest development challenges.

This will require strong leadership from both women and men particularly in the justice and policing sectors, but also by churches and community leaders.

With The passing of the Family Protection Act 2014 (FPA) marked the peak of many years of lobbying by the government and civil society.

This Act criminalises domestic violence and provides increased protection, and promotes the safety, health and well-being of victims of domestic violence.

These includes physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse. It also defines the types of relationships in which domestic violence can occur.

The FPA is a mixture of criminal and civil law. While it criminalises behaviours relating to domestic violence, it also provides civil remedies to protect victims and ensures their safety.

The focus of programming has largely been in response to the victims of domestic violence. The Solomon Islands Government acknowledges that this type of intervention needs to be strengthened and expanded during this policy period, and extended to the provinces.

As such, interventions in the policy must clearly address violence against women and girls from a comprehensive human rights viewpoint and ensure that current approaches to prevention of violence against women and girls don’t further marginalise women and girls with disabilities.

The sexual abuse of women and girls associated with logging, fishing and mining industries is also a huge concern in the Solomon Islands and is requires targeted interventions at national and provincial level.

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