Outcry in Vanuatu over penalty for attack on a woman
An outcry in Vanuatu over the assault of a woman after her three attackers were given a light sentence.
There has been an outcry in Vanuatu over the assault of a woman after her three attackers were given a light sentence.
The three beat her, groped her and dragged her across the ground for refusing to marry one of them.
Lucy Smith reports.
The men received a sentence of 200 hours community service and were ordered to pay US$270. But the chair of Women Against Crime and Corruption in Vanuatu, Jenny Ligo, says such a light sentence is a crime in itself.
JENNY LIGO: "It shows that Vanuatu men are still living in the stone age time. this type of action most of us cannot tolerate it. And the way they are handling the case is looking as though this is not really serious.Like if i was a judge they'd be behind bars."
This view is echoed by the Legal Officer of Vanuatu's Women's Centre, Valo Matas, who believes Kastom has not happened. Kastom is used in the court of law in Vanuatu and is about making peace between two parties outside of official law. She says while the sentences are too low for the men, the woman in this case will have to live with what happened to her for the rest of her life.
VALO MATAS: "In true Kastom there is respect for other person. These perpatrators had no respect for this young woman had they practiced the true notion of Kastom they would of respected her. That woman was assaulted for not marrying one of the perpatrators, there is no room for violence in Kastom."
Jenny Ligo says the chiefs need to take some responsibility for the sentence given to the three men.
JENNY LIGO: "People always try to respect the decision of the chiefs, like if the chiefs make a decision they agree to it. They will always do that. In this case it is already a crime, and I will say the chiefs are wrong."
Valo Matas says once violence against women is seen as a community issue, and women aren't seen as second class citizens, they can change the statistics.
VALO MATAS: "For other men they will see 'oh it's 200 hundred hours community work it's okay to continue to assualt a woman, because we won't go to jail'."
Attempts to get comment from traditional authorities were unsuccessful.
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