She was speaking last week after receiving her award.
Ms Garo said the intentions are noble and admirable and she really supports its goals but she questioned as if it is providing the desperately needed practical support to domestic violence victims?
“Is it working? At the outset, I wholeheartedly praise and support all those people who work tirelessly day and night to prevent domestic violence, to raise awareness of its impact and implications and to give tangible meaningful support to victims of domestic violence in their hour of need,” she said.
She said they are true women and men of courage who deserve full recognition and admiration, but whose deeds are so often taken for granted or left unnoticed.
She added domestic violence is a scourge of society which undermines the fabric of families and communities and devastates the lives of all concerned.
“Its prevalence is widespread and its consequences are far-reaching and life-changing. We must do everything we can to prevent and reduce it and to support its victims,” she said.
Ms Garo said as Chief Magistrate, she saw first –hand the efforts to address domestic violence in the context of the work of the Magistrate Courts.
“At the Central Magistrate’s Court here in Honiara for example, so far this year there has been an average of 2 protection order applications per month, there has been an average of 2 criminal cases files per month which include Family protection Act domestic violence offences, there has been an average of 7 Police Safety Notices per month filed in the court, and to date no orders made by authorised justices have been filed in court,” she added.
She said these figures are small and represent a mere drop in the ocean of the domestic violence endemic.
“The figures appear to suggest that the Act, three years since its introduction, is failing to have the impact that is set out to achieve. It seems that the Act may be lacking in outreach, relevance and the range of practical benefits which it affords.
“This is a crying shame and tends to show that we are letting down the most vulnerable people in our society and denying them access to justice,” she added.
She said this is not acceptable and something must be done about it.
Ms Garo added: “a society that abandons its victims has no viable future thus, we must find a way to find answers that leads to practical and tangible results for our most needy citizens.
“The solutions will not be easy and there will be huge problems and challenges to be faced. However, we must commitment, overcome them,” she said.
By IAN M.KAUKUI