UN data on violence prompts calls for action
More community coordination required to combat high rates of violence against women.
The United Nations Population Fund director for the Pacific says rates of domestic and sexual violence in the Pacific are a concern, and communities need to co-ordinate their efforts to stop it.
Between 60 and 70 per cent of women in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu report experiencing some form of domestic violence.
A 2008 WHO survey found that 68 per cent of women in Kiribati aged 15-49 experienced violence from an intimate partner.
Dr Laurent Zessler spoke to Alex Perrottet.
LAURENT ZESSLER: The percentage of gender-based violence is one thing, what is essential is the response to that. The response is a combined response. You have to have, what we call, police training. A woman has been abused, there is domestic violence, the police has to handle the case. Sometimes the woman doesn't go directly to the police, sometimes they go directly to the health sector because they feel the health sector is more friendly and will take care of her. So you have to train the police, you have to make sure the health sector is ready, and you need to have the judicial system also in line so you can start prosecuting the cases that should be punished according to the legal system in each country. So you see, we work on the research, secondly we work on the response, which you know is a combination of police, health sector and judiciary. And also the advocacy, the advocacy is essential, to make sure that people have the full information that domestic violence is happening. It happens in all types of you know, economic means, social groups, and it is something that is terrible and the state should respond to that. And also the community should respond to that.
ALEX PERROTTET: Papua New Guinea is one example, the amount of women, young women, who have been subject to some sort of violence, whether it's domestic or sexual violence, even before they are an adult, is phenomenal, the figures are staggering. What's the UN doing in some of these countries in terms of addressing the issue? It's a plague really.
LZ: What we do, it's a crisis in many countries in the world, but of course you know if the number are dramatic and serious it requires more stronger engagement from the authorities. If the authorities are not, you know, fully on board, for example, taking stronger measures, running a large campaign of information, punishing, punishing you know, prosecuting the perpetrators, then this could degenerate, and you know it shouldn't be the case. So what we do is we work with many governments on this issue. I would like to emphasise, we are encouraged. It is not like ten years before. And data have been published and I must say that even in Papua New Guinea the government has been very responsive and is addressing this issue.
AP: What would you say about bringing in the death penalty in Papua New Guinea for the perpetrators of these crimes?
LZ: This issue is an issue to be decided by each sovereign state. As far as the UN is concerned we leave it to each state to decide what should be the punishment that is going to be for their citizens, however we emphasise that the judicial systems should be prepared to have, you know, proportionate penalties according to international standards.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: