THE European Union Ambassador to Solomon Islands Leonidas Tezapsidis paid a visit to Choiseul Province from the 2nd to 4th of March.
This was mainly to discuss and hear from those who have received financial support from the European Union and its development partners.
The highlight of this trip was the discussion and feedback received from women organisations and the provincial government on issues faced by women in the province and the assistance from the European Union through the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT).
Civil Society Organisations and some provincial government department staff in Taro have received training from the SPC RRRT on gender and support to ensure that gender discrimination is addressed by the CSOs in their organisation, as well as through their work in the communities.
The Choiseul Provincial Premier commended EU and SPC RRRT for supporting and working through an existing committee to address the issue of domestic violence.
“Solomon Islands has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the Pacific, with government statistics showing 2 out of 3 women between 15 to 49 years old experience physical or sexual violence from their intimate partners,” the EU Ambassador told the Choiseul Provincial Assembly Members.
The Choiseul Province Premier on the other hand said:
“This is an alarming rate and as leaders, we should consider this seriously and address this issue.”
The premier highlighted that they have a Women’s Resource Centre the Provincial Women’s Desk and the Choiseul Province Against Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Committee with support from other stakeholders to address domestic violence.
Hellen Nowak, the Coordinator of the Provincial’s Women Desk stated that they have established a committee consisting of various non-government and government departments to address domestic violence and child abuse.
However; they have no resources to support the work of this committee.
“We are grateful for this assistance as it will enable the committee and its members to carry out our planned outreach visits to the communities”, says Ms Nowak.
During the visit the EU and SPC team met with officials from the Provincial Ministry of Health, Education, Youth and Sports; the Police Church representatives and members of the civil society in Choiseul.
They also heard of the challenges and issues relating to domestic violence and how this has been addressed by the different departments.
Mrs Martin of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community said:
“We have a lot of work to do when it comes to addressing domestic violence because a lot of people including those in decision-making positions do not see domestic violence as an issue.
“Of course, it might not be obvious but remember the thousands of women and children who suffer in silence, whose stories are not known or heard. These are the vulnerable people that need to be protected.
“Their leaders have to ensure that women, men and their children live a life that is free from violence.”