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Regional working group to address domestic violence

Pacific countries agree to establish a regional working group to address domestic violence

26 October, 2018

Nadi, Fiji – Representatives from eleven Pacific countries have agreed to establish a regional working group to help address domestic violence issues. This agreement was a key result from a regional consultation made up of senior civil servants responsible for domestic violence legislation and representatives from national domestic violence taskforces and committees, who met in Fiji this week to discuss strategies for implementing domestic violence legislation.

The consultation was hosted by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) in partnership with UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office, and supported by the Government of Australia and the Government of Sweden.

For the last 20 years SPC RRRT has been hosting regional consultations on several topics linked to human rights and violence against women. Regional statistics show that more than 60% of women in the Pacific have been at one point in their lives been victim of violence. At the opening of the 2018 consultation Deputy Director General of SPC, Dr Audrey Aumua, said “domestic violence prevents women from engaging and participating fully in the life of their communities”, and highlighted SPC’s responsibility “to tackle this and recognize the importance of addressing family violence as a way to contributing and ensuring the overall development of a country.”

Participants took the opportunity over three days to share good practice and learn from each other, culminating in an agreement to establish a regional working group to meet on a biannual basis. The working group will comprise of an elected Chairperson from Fiji and a Deputy Chairperson from Samoa, and nominated government representatives from each Pacific Island country or state. Supported by SPC RRRT as secretariat, members of the working group will share strategies for the implementation of legislation, leading to better outcomes for survivors of domestic violence.

Honourable Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Fiji’s Minister of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation commended the establishment of a regional group, saying, “I hope that the regional momentum created through this working group can foster an environment where we in the Pacific can take even more concrete steps to provide better services to all survivors of domestic violence.”

Certainly a key message emerging from the consultation is that partnership and working collaboratively are key to addressing domestic violence in the Pacific. UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office Ending Violence Against Women Programme Advisor Abigail Erikson said, “UN Women is pleased to be supporting this convening that directly assists governments across the region to fulfil their commitments made in national legislation to address domestic violence and family violence.

“This ongoing work is a priority, and links with extensive work to improve access to quality services for survivors of gender-based violence, under the new Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls that we are coordinating in partnership with SPC RRRT and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, with support from the European Union and the Australian Government.”

The new working group will meet biannually, starting in 2019. The immediate next step is for the governments of Fiji and Samoa to confirm who will hold the positions of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.

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