24 Oct 2002

Cook Islanders called to change attitude to fight abuse of women

5:43 pm on 24 October 2002

The Cook Islands Women's Counselling Centre, Punanga Tauturu, says to combat violent crime there needs to be an attitudinal change in the country.

It has welcomed the promise by justice minister, Norman George, of tougher sentences but Lyndsey Francis of Punanga Tauturu says a lot more needs to happen.

The tougher stance by the Government follows the killing of 31 year old Tuakana Tereau Teama, a month ago, and repeated calls by Punanga Tauturu for the Crimes Act to be updated.

Mr George says the Act will over-ride other laws and treat offenders "with a closed fist rather than a gloved hand."

But Ms Francis says the key is to get commitment from the judiciary and the police.

"they're the ones who determine the success of new laws and strategies for coping with assaults against women and children in the home and it also reflects the community attitude so you know there needs to be an attitudinal change within the community because there are many people in our community who do not see domestic violence as a crime"

Lyndsey Francis says Punanga Tauturu sees, on average, five victims of domestic violence each week.