THE CARETAKER Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has urged Churches to take the lead in addressing domestic violence in the country.
Mr Lilo highlighted this when he officially opened the Adventist Women Congress in Munda, Western province, Monday this week.
He said with the Family Protection Act 2014 which was passed by Parliament in its last sitting; it was not a reference to a legal duty that the church must undertake, rather a duty of the church to address domestic violence based on principles and values which are imparted to the church through the word of God.
“Does the church have a role to play in this law? Let me emphasise that it is not necessary for a law to compel the church to address domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is a concern for the church because it threatens life which is a gift to us by God.”
He said it is clear in law that domestic violence is wrong.
Therefore, the caretaker Prime Minister said the Church must play an active part in recognising those who suffer domestic violence and to make sure they must be protected and helped to continue to live better lives.
Mr Lilo added that the Family Protection Act 2014 would also require awareness programs on domestic violence.
Therefore, he said Church as a key institution in the country must be encouraged to consider developing messages and awareness programs for domestic violence prevention.
“Ensure that our congregations are not creating or tolerating home environments that are unsafe for those who are already vulnerable including children, women and persons with disabilities,” he said.
Mr Lilo also encouraged Churches to help provide vital information for victims where they could seek help or advice when needed.
“The Church can also help educate victims to understand domestic violence laws so that the response to domestic violence must be holistic,” he said.
“We must look at the national responses and the church’s responses and align them so that a woman who informs you as a church leader or a church member that she has been beaten repeatedly by her husband not only finds reassurance but also is afforded legal protection.
“This means that the woman is informed of other services that are available to address problems with her health, her safety, her children, her maintenance and housing.
“As you know, in this country, many victims of violence in the home will approach church workers, whether a pastor, priest, elder or member of the congregation.
“There is great responsibility on the Church to give hope, support and encouragement for these victims,” he said.
Meanwhile, the caretaker Prime Minister said Solomon Islands has taken a very clear stand on the issue of domestic violence.
He said The UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Forum Leaders Communiques and the Gender Equality Declaration are some examples of legal and policy commitments the country has taken to address the issue of personal security of vulnerable citizens including women and girls.