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Kiribati accepts petition to stop violence against women

8 September 2011

Kiribati accepts Amnesty’s 21,000-plus signature petition to stop violence against women in the Pacific

Kiribati President Anote Tong will today take another step forward in recognising the endemic issue of sexual and gender-based violence in the Pacific, when he accepts Amnesty International’s 21,000 plus petition on behalf of his country.

To date, Tong is the sole Pacific head to accept the petition which calls on Pacific leaders to make their countries safe and secure for women.

Amnesty International wrote to Pacific Island leaders asking them to accept its petition during the 2011 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting and looks forward to their response.

Since November 2010, Amnesty has collected 21,055 signatures asking leaders to implement laws to prevent violence, punish offenders and compensate survivors, and to put into practice human rights conventions that protect women from violence.

Gender-based violence is a pervasive and systemic issue and the Pacific region has amongst the worst rates in the world, with two in three women experiencing abuse.

Kiribati’s sexual and gender based violence rates are indicative of the Pacific’s plight – with 68 per cent of ever-partnered women experiencing at least one act of physical or sexual violence, or both, by an intimate partner.

But Kiribati is also showing strong leadership in combating the issue with the government currently in discussion about proposed domestic violence legislation.

Amnesty International highly commends the sterling efforts and tireless work of civil society organisations, key individuals and the Reference Group on Sexual and Gender Based Violence which have played an integral part in the progress that has been achieved this far.

However, Amnesty International has expressed its deep concern that while progress has been made regionally to establish draft legislation and policies, without the crucial next step of enacting legislation, the momentum and hard earned progress that has been achieved so far will falter and be lost.

“Every single one of those signatures is a call for action to Pacific Island leaders, and as the largest petition Amnesty has presented, it highlights the depth of concern shared on this issue”, says Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand’s Chief Executive Patrick Holmes.

“Pacific leaders must ‘change the lights on women’s rights’. It is imperative for national legal frameworks to be put in place in all Pacific countries including Kiribati, to solidify these new policies to combat sexual and gender-based violence if women and their families are to have real protection,” adds Holmes.

The securing of this handover could not have been achieved without the work of Women’s Rights and Advocacy and the Pacific (WRAP) a group of New Zealand based NGO’s of which Amnesty International is a member.

The public hand-over will take place at City Life Hotel on Auckland’s Queens Street at 5pm today.

What: 21,000-plus signature petition presentation
When: 5pm, Thursday September 8.
Where: City Life Hotel, 171 Queen St, Auckland.

ENDS

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