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FEATURE STORY

Raising awareness of violence against women in the Pacific

November 25, 2012

Reducing gender-based violence is not only a moral imperative but also an economic necessity, where it has imposed a large economic cost on Pacific Island countries.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • One in every three women in the world will be physically or sexually abused at some point in their life. In some Pacific countries, the statistics are worse.
  • On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women the world should reflect on the devastating effects of domestic violence.

November 25, 2012 – Around one in every three women in the world over will be physically or sexually abused at some point in their life; one in four children bear witness to domestic or gender violence. In some Pacific countries, the statistics are worse. 

According to the World Bank's 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development, between 60 and 70 per cent of women in Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu report experiencing some form of domestic violence.

The Pacific region has some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world. A 2008 WHO survey found that 23 per cent of women in Kiribati reported abuse during pregnancy, while 68 per cent of women aged 15-49 experienced violence from an intimate partner.

According to Merilyn Tahi, Coordinator of the Vanutu’s Women’s Center, “We also have to look into our cultural and traditional practice to address violence again women.” She explained that, “In some Vanuatu cultures, on the day of the wedding, women are told about their roles and that they cannot tell what happens at home outside the house. And they believe that is culture.”

Open Quotes

In some Vanuatu cultures, on the day of the wedding, women are told about their roles and that they cannot tell what happens at home outside the house. And they believe that is culture Close Quotes

Merilyn Tahi
Coordinator of the Vanutu’s Women’s Center

Gender violence is not only a violation of human rights, it affects the economy and places a major burden on essential services. A culture of violence against women has a devastating impact on societies.

To highlight some of these issues, the World Bank's Pacific Department organized a series of workshops on domestic violence, and, together with AusAID, a televised panel discussion with four leading women activists – watch the discussion.

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Today people should reflect on the devastating effects of domestic violence, on women, on children and society at large. No continent, no country, no culture is immune.

This issue affects everyone. Today is the day to prepare for tomorrow - to Act Equal, and Think Equal.