Posted by : Posted on : 11-Mar-2020

Revealing information comes to hand that Gender-based violence disputes in the Solomons exist at higher rates than reported by the police

Information has just surfaced in the Solomon Islands that Gender-based violence disputes exist at a higher rate than had been reported by the police.

This rather disturbing revelation has become evident following the release of an Access to Justice (A2J Study which was a comprehensive study in all Solomon Islands provinces in 2018 and 2019

. Some 2,633 Solomon Islanders (50.3% men and 49.7% women) were surveyed.

The study was conducted (in 2018-2019) under the Access to Justice Technical Working Group with the leadership of the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and supported by the Australian Government and UNDP

“Given the high rate of violence against women in the Solomon Islands, the cost in terms of lost productive days for victims, out of pocket health expenditures for those having to seek health care in the aftermath and the cost for girls dropping out of school (15 to 18 years old) was assessed to be around 3% of GDP

The Solomon Star newspaper, today, featured some more of the pertinent findings of the Access to Justice Study in a detailed article written by its staff reporter Assumpta Buchanan.

Quoting some extracts of Assumpta’s article, they read:

“Potentially as high as in 1 in 6 women reported disputes in the last two years.

“Earlier studies indicated a lifetime rate as high as 1 in 4, or 2 in 3,” the study found.

“It was also revealed that those cases are rarely taken to the formal justice sector.

“It was found that less than 80 percent of both men and women recognised violence against women as unjustified and worthy of punishment, and 55 percent indicated that domestic violence was present in their communities

“The findings suggest both the need and likely community support for strengthening enforcement of the Family Protection Act.”

“The study also found that Enforcement of the Family Protect Act (FPA), however, remains low.

Only 14 Police Safety Notices (PSNs) had been issued by the police at the time when the survey was conducted.

“It was further revealed that only 14 Police Safety Notices (PSNs) had been issued by the police.

“Separately, the Police Prosecutions Department reported 112 prosecutions under the FPA, since its inception, including 12 new cases in 2018 and 57 cases in 2017.

“Reports, from RRRT and other respondents, indicated that very few Interim Protection Orders - only 1, by some accounts; up to 20 by others - had been issued by Authorized Justices.⁷⁹

“The study found that despite substantial training, local court justices had not been able to realize their mandate as authorized justices.

“The A2J study also stated that the continued sensitization, roll-out and enforcement of the FPA should be strengthened by reconsidering authorized justice qualifications and increasing sensitization across the police service especially in the provinces.

“The uncertainty and lack of consistent reporting on the FPA was emblematic of wider enforcement issues.

“That the A2J Study consistently received competing figures on PSNs and IPOs without access to a definitive source is a sign of further disarray and a lack of institutional coordination in FPA implementation.

“The survey further revealed that the true cost of violence against women in social and economic terms was hard to estimate, but had to include the effects of lost esteem, powerlessness, ill-health, loss of productive days and impact on the overall well-being of the woman and the family in her care.

“The A2J survey indicated that a majority of women believe that the most effective way of seeking justice was through the formal justice system, with less trust in the traditional system than for other disputes.

“The lack of access to the formal system for GBV cases and the cost to the country of violence against women necessitates greater investment in the extension of formal justice services for violence against women.

“Community perceptions also support this extension, with 86% supporting punishment for a man that used violence against a woman,” the survey revealed.”

Source:  Solomon Star News.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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