Ending Violence Against Women

Preventing gender violence in the Pacific

Violence against women prevalence surveys in the Pacific have shown that the incidence is the worst in the world with over 60 per cent of women and girls having experienced violence at the hand of an intimate partner or family member.

Violence against women, and intimidation of violence, is an abuse of women’s human rights. It limits women’s participation in social, political and economic life. This significantly impacts on development outcomes, affecting families and communities and placing significant strains on health care, social services and policing and justice systems. For example, the children of women who experienced violence have increased levels of child mortality and emotional and behavioural problems, and are more likely to become perpetrators of violence.

In the Pacific, support services for survivors of violence have seen minimal progress in recent years. However, local organisations focusing on a human rights approach to the issue are having some success.

Violence needs to be prevented as well as services provided for survivors. Supporting the transformation of deeply held values and beliefs that justify men’s violence against women is a crucial long-term goal of violence prevention efforts. Prevention of violence requires coordinated efforts at all levels; aimed at raising awareness of related issues, changing community norms about violence and increasing women’s status in society.

Significant advances in the Pacific have been achieved in expanding women’s access to justice. However, the implementation of laws, as well as the overall functioning of the judicial and police systems, remains fragile. Violence takes many forms and is multi-causal and multi-dimensional so interventions to respond and prevent it need to take place on multiple levels. Strategies to reduce violence against women must involve civil society initiatives, the church and government institutions. Coordination between these groups needs to be greatly strengthened and improved.