Dear Editor – The website www.solomonislandsinfocus.com which I established just two months ago to support the Solomon Islands and to try to aid charitable causes has had a wide local and international following and prompted a good deal of feedback from people of all backgrounds and social status in the Solomon Islands in particular.
The message most often received relates to the concern over domestic and family violence.
One message in particular read, “Domestic violence is increasing throughout the country regardless of the many resources that are provided and made available.
“If resources are made available to address this pandemic, then what else can we do? Coordination is an absolute must in this process.
“Organizations are doing their own thing rather than working as partners. Millions and millions of dollars are coming into the country in the name of ending violence but this is far from happening.”
Such comments have become a common theme of the writers that have made contact with me.
It was one of the reasons why I advocated the rehabilitation of the Solomon Islands Development Trust (SIDT) and the re-introduction of the organization’s theatre programme to reach out to the 80% of the nation’s village communities and to demonstrate by way of theatre plays how domestic violence often starts and how it can be avoided.
The SIDT is now in the process of drafting a fresh policy project, incorporating theatre, to try to stem the rise in domestic violence, to provide counselling to victims and give advice on how to report incidences of violence in the home.
Having posted news of SIDT’s new plans, a writer wrote to me saying, “Getting finance to start the SIDT’s renewed programme will be a problem for there will always be those taking the upper hand in financing operations”.
Taking into consideration that “millions and millions of dollars are coming into the country in the name of ending domestic violence,” it has to be questioned why it is that a proven organization like the SIDT seems to be bypassed, if true, in terms of its needs?
If it is simply a question of better coordination and consultation with the many agencies with the money to spend and cannot the relevant government ministry do something about it?
Another issue that I covered at length in my website was the need for recognition of our chiefs and elders, with a re-visit to the traditional justice system.
There resulted much comment in support of what I had written but one writer told me, ‘When we refer to the term chiefs or the way tradition is practiced, only traditional currency or methods are used but now these ways are being undermined with the influence of how people translate development and how money is becoming the underlying agenda to stir change.”
Here lies a real challenge for in the process of much needing development our traditional cultural practices and ways of doing things are being affected.
In the context of the traditional way of doing things another writer commented about what he saw taking place in his own village.
This is what he had to say. “The village where I came from was once a haven of peace and that was because we had village, tribal chiefs who represented their tribes and who worked together in the community to address the issues affecting both men and women.
“Now my village and others have become a haven for drug activities, the selling of illegal alcohol making our women frightened.
“The traditional justice system must be revived. Young people are no longer listening to their elders in their own communities.
“Many of our communities are isolated from where the Police are located. When disputes happen there is no one to take the lead to address such problems.”
There are many more comments that relate to the same core issues raised so far and there is always a plea for the government to do something about their ‘grass roots’ concerns.
Since the inception of the DCC Government we have witnessed many proposed reforms to entice investment, promote tourism, develop the national infrastructure and generally provide for a better future for all Solomon Islands citizens.
What is needed still, if I judge correctly from those who have written to me , is there needs to be a understanding ear, and more, to the concerns of the people who see a lack of coordination in dealing with the blight of domestic violence, who see money and resources being pumped in by external agencies bypassing the pre-existing organisations, to quote the SIDT as one example, and who are not just saying but demanding government recognition of our chiefs and elders to restore their role in what has stood for centuries as the best form of traditional justice practice in the Solomon Islands.
Former police commissioner