29 May 2015

Cooks free legal service to encourage women to get help

6:45 am on 29 May 2015

The Cook Islands Ministry of Internal Affairs says it's hoped a free legal service for victims of domestic violence will encourage women to seek help.

Funding from Australia Aid has enabled the Ministry to negotiate with the women's counselling centre, Punanga Tauturu, to set up a free legal service pilot programme.

The secretary of internal affairs, Bredina Drollet, says apart from financial barriers, some women have a fear and sense of shame when speaking outside of their normal family networks.

"So [free] legal services will help women that are facing financial constraints in taking a case through. I'm hoping that it might start shifting those broader social norms to enable women to also overcome some of that perceived personal shame that might prevent them going to courts as well. And hopefully going to Punanga Tauturu as a counselling service as well will help overcome that."

Bredina Drollet says the pilot programme will also provide more general legal services for all types of family law.

Standard cells have a telephone for inmates to call pre-approved phone numbers.

Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson