SOLOMON ISLANDS: Violence Against Women Rampant in SI

Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Solomon Star
Solomon Is.
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

A week ago somewhere in the Gilbert Camp area, another young woman's life had been taken as result of violence, violence against women.

Although, reports after reports shows that Violence against women and young girls in Solomon Islands is very high, the issue soon sort of faded away from people's thoughts and it emerges again if another woman or young girl dies in such a very inhuman way as result of violence against women.

The saddest thing is most of these women lost their lives not at the hands of strangers, but at the hands of someone they once loved or somebody they knew.

Violence against women and young girls in Solomon Islands although rampant, but looking at it more closely, it is not been prioritised at the same time it is overlooked and neglected by the leaders of this country.

It is an issue that is been discriminated against because it is Women's Issue. As a woman I do not see what else would attract our leaders to prioritise when the lives of many of our women and girls are at stake of losing their lives.

If this issue continues to be over looked or side tracked, many of our women and young girls will die, and some of them will leave very young children behind. It will also fragment and divide many of the families in Solomon Islands and when families are fragmented or broken, so as the nation.

A lot of our children will become victims of an issue that they know nothing about. If this nation works hard at reducing VAW or have a very effective judicial system in place, then it shows that Solomon Islands is eager to protect its future leaders from living a life of violence and abuse.

If violence against women is an important issue for this country to address, than what is the government total budget for tackling such an epidemic?

The government is not on its own on this. Donors that are donating millions of dollars to the development of this country, how much money are you giving towards this?

If you think that Gender is a priority area for you and before you can promote its development, you need to look at the reality women and young girls are facing in this society.

If women, in particular house wives are beaten up by their husbands and young girls being sexually abused by their fathers and uncles, then as donors you need to look again at what you can do effectively to touch the lives of these vulnerable ones.

It is useless addressing women's development while half of the same group is battling violence.

Every day we are being bombarded with information on women being abused, wives being beaten to death by their husbands and young girls are being sexually abused by their fathers or uncles, however very few of these culprits who commits these awful crimes are being prosecuted.

This is not very encouraging to women. Women will either not trust our judicial system or will totally turn in and remain silent.

Since most violent crimes that happened to women and young girls are committed by men, it is quite just to say that men will have to join forces with women to reduce such a crime.

The church in general also has a fundamental role to play in speaking out against Violence against women.

The church leaders need to step out of their comfortable zone to address their congregation that beating, abusing another human being does not go along with the word of God.

Violence against women is one of the well talked about issue in this country quite similar to the way corruption in this country is approached.

Almost every NGO in the Solomon Islands have awareness programs on violence against women, women's organizations have programs to address ending violence against women and the Solomon Islands government also has a new policy on Gender based violence. Looking at this, the picture on violence against women and young girls in this country is almost a completed one.

The SI Government also has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

By this the responsibility to ensure that such agreement is workable belongs to the government of this country. The role of the Solomon Islands Government is to protect women and children for the good of the country.

In other words the Solomon Islands Government will have to work harder in order to protect its women from violence. Staggering statistics of domestic violence (64% of women 15 to 49 have experienced physical or sexual violence in a relationship) and abuse of girls and women by employers in remote villages is reflected in a report by the Ministry of Women in partnership with the Secretariat in Solomon Islands.

By taking such a step forward, safety, nurturing and empowerment of women will also make Solomon Islands a healthy and a wealthy nation.

What everybody is hoping to see is change, change in legislation and an effective development policy that protects women; address discrimination against women and promote gender equality; and help to move the culture away from violence.

Training on Violence against women will need to include men and young people, not women all the time.

There is need “to break the silence about violence against women and girls through promoting a culture of respect and zero tolerance towards violence, eliminating barriers that prevent individuals from speaking out and to create and sustain safe and enabling environments for these different groups to share their experiences, ideas and challenges without the fear of discrimination or prejudice”.

The continuous trend on violating women and young girls is costing this country severely “in areas such as enforcement of law, welfare and social and healthcare services place a huge burden on national economy of the country”.

Violence against women and young girls in Solomon Islands needs to be put on the Government list of priorities in order for such an immoral act to be reduced. The violence that women and young girls of this country go through day in and day out need to be addressed at a bigger scale.

Violence against women talking about here is about the lives of women and young girls who are also citizens of this country.

The reflection of the increased cases of violence against women and young girls in this country reflects a country that is violent and is not doing enough about what is happening to its women and girls.

It also reflects a gap of inequality between men and women, the power relations and the way in which women are being treated by men.

In general, if 64% of women and young girls suffer violence, then the picture is already bad although there are many Solomon Island men who do not believe or participate in such an evil act.

For many women in this country, the place they fear most is their own homes. Women would act as if everything is normal when it is not and this can happen as a way to protect their own children.

Often women will continue to suffer at the hands of their husbands just to ensure that her children are safe and okay.

In conclusion, men and women need to join hands with our government leaders, church leaders, NGOs, the Business community, the Civil society in order to protect women and young girls in the homes, the community and the nation as a whole from the abusive hands of their perpetrators.

Solomon Islands need a strong law that looks at violence against women as life threatening and most violating.

If it is possible, the law need to be strengthened in order to look after the welfare of our women clients who suffer horribly at the hands of their perpetrators.

In the end if women and young girls continued to suffer terribly as result of VAW, then there is a huge black cloud still hanging over the peace that this country is promoting and the law and order that RAMSI assisted to restore.