Solomons prepare for Family Protection Act
Safe havens for victims of family violence and the police in the Solomon Islands say demand for their services will grow when the Family Protection Act becomes Law.
Safe havens for victims of family violence and the police in Solomon Islands say demand for their services will grow when the Family Protection Act becomes Law.
The Act, which ensures protection for people who experience domestic violence, is due to be gazetted next month.
Ben Robinson reports.
In recent years, victims of domestic violence have been coming forward in greater numbers in the Solomons, where two out of every three women are likely to be abused by an intimate partner within their lifetime. Seif Pleis is a referral centre and health clinic in Honiara offering care to survivors of sexual and gender based violence. Its manager, Kim Abbey, says about 450 people were assisted at the centre last year, a number she expects will grow.
KIM ABBEY: "The levels of violence are probably about the same since the tensions of 1998 through to 2003, but we're in a period of transition with regards to the legislation. We've got the Family Protection Act which we're hoping will be gazetted in April. If that happens then we'd expect more cases to be coming through. I'd expect more cases in general would be going through for the next couple of years and then hopefully we see it plateau and go down."
The Christian Care Centre in Honiara provides a refuge to victims of family violence. It's director, Sister Phyllis Sau, thinks domestic violence has increased in the Solomons just as its reporting has become more common.
SISTER PHYLLIS SAU: "It's getting worse I think. More women are coming out to report their problems, but before they were very silent about it. Now they come forward to report their problems to police or sometimes they just walk straight to us and we refer the to the police. The thing here is more reported and more (cases) still not reported."
Kim Abbey says she's working to replicate Seif Pleis services throughout the Solomon Islands an ambition supported by the country's Police.
KIM ABBEY: "Under the Family Protection Act we're providing a place for police to provide that immediate protection and security. Typically in these settings it wouldn't always be police moving forward on issues like this, but they've really grasped the issue of gender based violence with both hands."
The Solomon's deputy police commissioner, Juanita Matanga says training programmes are being rolled out across the country to prepare police to inforce the Family Protection act when it becomes law.
JUANITA MATANGA: "We provide training to our officers to understand the act, how they are going to implement it in their own work places [and] the powers they are going to impose when they deal with the Family Protection Act. There are specific provisions in that act that allow police officers to deal with certain issues that we are not used to dealing with under our current legislation. This act gives police officers specific powers to address some of the issues that sometimes have constrained them when dealing with family violence in the home."
Juanita Matanga says the issue of family violence must be moved to the forefront of society so Solomon Islanders can work together to reduce it.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: