UN says violence against women in Pacific still widespread
The United Nations says that while the issue of violence against women in the Pacific has gained increased visibility in recent years, it is still wide-spread.
The United Nations says that while the issue of violence against women in the Pacific has gained increased visibility in recent years, it is still widespread.
The UN's '16 days of Activism against Gender-based Violence' campaign is currently in full-swing, with events taking place throughout the Pacific.
Bridget Grace spoke with UN Women's Deputy Representative for Fiji, Nicolas Burniat.
NICOLAS BURNIAT: Most countries in the Pacific, even the smaller ones will have some activities, whether it's marches, whether it's conferences, or radio talk shows. But what you do really see is the issue of violence against women in the Pacific has really taken an increased visibility over the last few years and has been taken increasingly seriously by governments. Most governments of the region have really declared a political intention to tackle violence. And as part of that people do talk about violence a lot more than they used too. And so these campaigns have been growing, growing and so it takes much bigger space in the public opinion in the newspapers, in the media so it's much more visible. For us here in Fiji it is by far the biggest year we've ever had.
BRIDGET GRACE: Why would you say that gender-based violence is something that people should be thinking about in the Pacific?
NB: Globally, one out of three women or girl will know violence in their lifetime. This is really no county in the world is spared. What we say, and this is really true, this is the largest single violation of human rights in the world. It's also the crime that's the least prosecuted and punished. And it's a real threat to peace and development. But if you look at the Pacific, the amounts are double. We know of eleven countries in the Pacific where you've had scientific studies on the prevalence of violence. And basically the average is anything between 60 and 68 percent of women in their lifetime knowing violence. I mean that's, if you look around you, that's two out of three women. That means in the Pacific it's not just an issue for women, it's an issue for society collectively. This is why this campaign is so important that really I think society understands that this is not just an issue that women should be worried about, but that we need to all be worried about and tackle together, because if we don't, to be honest development in the future in the Pacific will be compromised.
BG: Could you tell me about this years theme of prevention and why that was chosen?
NB: An aspect that I think the world has spent more time trying to work on is on prevention. How do we stop violence from occurring in the first place. And it's very important to say that violence is not acceptable but it's also not inevitable, it can be prevented. So and that's why I think it's so important that we start having these dialogues. Yes we need to continue to provide quality services for survivors, we need to continue working on implementation of legislation. But we also need to start working and stopping the violence before it happens. And that really means working on the social and structural norms of our countries that accept violence and value men over women, and we're talking about patriarchy. But if you look at the Pacific for instance, one very, very worrying factor is that studies that have been made show that, let's take Marshall Islands, 65 percent of women in the Marshall Islands actually agree that it's normal in certain circumstances for their partners to be violent. Now that clearly shows that something has to be done about changing mentalities, changing social norms
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