Gender based violence (GBV) is alarmingly prevalent in the Solomon Islands.
Gender norms encourage men to perpetuate inequality and controlling behaviour and the payment of bride price is still common in some provinces. Seventy-three per cent of men and women believe that in certain cases, violence against women is justifiable. The government’s development of legislation and measures to protect women was slow and the country is unlikely to achieve the Millennium Development Goal for gender by 2015.
The Family Support Centre (FSC) is a local NGO established in 1995 to address GBV, sexual abuse and child abuse. It is staffed by experienced, trained professionals who offer confidential and supportive legal and counselling services to those affected by violence or abuse. FSC run educational programmes, maintain a resource library and raise awareness of GBV and women and children’s rights. They work closely with support agencies such as the police, as well as NGOs. Oxfam partners with FSC to provide funding and support for counselling and legal assistance to women affected by GBV. Through these programmes, we challenge the acceptance of GBV.
Shelter and support
Oxfam is helping FSC provide quality, accessible services by:
- Building and continuing to support running of a new safe haven shelter in Honiara that houses a confidential counselling room and emergency accommodation for survivors
- Supporting a 24-hour emergency access hotline staffed by qualified counsellors
- Encouraging information sharing and communication between referral agencies.
Oxfam is strengthening FSC’s long term sustainability and organisational development by helping FSC identify and negotiate new funding sources and strengthening their governance and long-term strategy. We’re also carrying out financial management and training.
Challenging the beliefs perpetuating GBV is a critical element of Oxfam’s efforts and we work closely with communities on family violence issues. We are supporting community members as facilitators to run workshops that look at social inclusion, gender stereotypes, violence triggers and alternative actions.
Oxfam is encouraging agencies including the government and the judiciary to work together to promote and ensure the safety of women. We are contributing to the first Solomon Islands Government Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) report to the UN and taking part in national policy and legislative task forces.
- In 2013 FSC provided services to 375 clients, the majority of whom were experiencing domestic violence or child abuse.
- FSC responded to 194 out-of-hours emergency calls and provided mobile clinics to rural women outside Honiara.
- Over 2,053 people attended one of six awareness programmes addressing GBV and child abuse.
- Campaigns including Text a Pledge and the Take Back the Night candlelight vigil, raising awareness of gender based violence in national media.
- The government sought input from Oxfam and FSC for a Family Protection Bill, which will criminalise violence against women and children. The Bill was passed through Parliament August 2014