A Vanuatu women's group challenges chiefs views
Women Against Crime and Corruption in Vanuatu says times have changed and marital rape can not be tolerated.
The chair of Women Against Crime and Corruption in Vanuatu says the country must move with the times and let the courts deal with marital rape cases.
Jenny Ligo's comments come after criticism by some chiefs of a police decision to arrest a man for allegedly raping his wife.
A chief from Tanna said that the arrest was an abuse of customary law, as the chiefs should have dealt with the matter.
But Jenny Ligo told Jamie Tahana the arrest is a case of the government upholding its international promise to protect women.
JENNY LIGO: The chief, that's what everybody believes that in the customs of Vanuatu, it is like that traditional way of thinking, like it's a way of looking at it, it's not right but I have heard that women who remember and take into account that it's no longer now the olden days, we have moved from the olden days to a new generation of people like now the Government is a member of the United Nations and we are members of the UN family where we have our government department to uphold the law of discrimination against women so this is something the chief is coming out clearly to understand that they have to remember there are laws in Vanuatu, they are still discriminating but there are the other laws which come in to protect and this is where I believe the wife comes under.
JAMIE TAHANA: So this is a case of Vanuatu's Government upholding its promise to protect the rights of women in Vanuatu.
JL: Yes, at the moment, in Vanuatu, the Vanuatu parliament has passed the Vanuatu protection act which is now in effect...so this is where I think, that if the chiefs do not want to see this happening, then they have to call on the law commission to review laws that they believe are discriminating, and they have to come up with an ultimate decision that can accommodate and put into place that it protects the wife and the husband. Like at the moment if the law says that those who rape, they are going to get life imprisonment, then that's the law.
JT: Is it concerning for you that you do have an attitude from chiefs that, as quoted in some reports 'women are ordered to obey their husbands as the heads of families', that that attitude is still within custom law and you have chiefs openly criticising police going against that?
JL: I think in here we have to remember, if the chiefs want to uphold the law of the custom then they have to come up very clearly and show the ways that the laws that women believe that this is protecting them.
JT: So to change these attitudes, to make it better for women, what needs to happen in regards to custom law?
JL: What I believe, that will be good for everyone is the law commission, they have to really look at the laws that discriminate against women, and they have to look at the laws then really come up with a law that covers everybody and I think that is fair family law, protection.
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