“You have the power to mould your communities in a way that large countries or big cities do not have.”
High Court judge, Justice Pallaras QC made this remark on Sunday when he was giving an awareness talk based on the topic on how to treat women and children in our community at an Anglican church at Saint Albans Chapel.
He told the congregation that this is their community, their country.
“It is a small community and a small country and it can be what they want it to be.
He said in order to mould the communities, everyone has to act and do something about respecting women and children.
“You have to learn your rights what they are for women and what they are not for men.
“You have to lead by example.
“You have to demand your political representatives that they tell you what they have done to solve this problem.
“Not what they have said, not what they are planning to do, what they have done.
“And if they have passed this bit of legislation or signed that convention, tell them that no piece of paper has ever prevented a woman being beaten or a child being raped.”
Justice Pallaras added that if the political representatives have not done enough then this nation has to tell them people are not going to vote for them but will vote instead for someone who cares, someone who does not talk but act.
He stressed that people needs to demand of it again and again as it is not for us but for our children.
“We don’t want another generation whose thinking is stuck in the 18th century.
“You have to make a noise.”
He said his country is a signatory to the United Nations Conventions on Human Rights.
The judge said it is fantastic that this country is a signatory to the UN Convention on the elimination of all discrimination against women.
He said signing up to a hundred conventions and making themselves look good on the international stage will absolutely mean nothing to any Solomon Islander until they back their words with actions.
“Until they build refuges for women who get bashed, daily child care for their children, medical help for victims, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists to help them recover from the years of trauma, police officers who no longer think ‘its only a family matter, I won’t get bothered to get involved.
“Until the government actually does something these treaties and conventions (including family protection Bill) are barely worth the paper they are written on,” Justice Pallaras said.
A report into sexual offending produced by the Solomon Islands Law Reform last year found an alarming level of sexual violence.
Justice Pallaras said the report also looks back to the time of the tensions and says that sexual violence during those times were high with amnesty international reporting that women and girls experienced high rates of sexual violence in Guadalcanal and Malaita.
He said no prosecutions were conducted because women were too frightened to press charges or were persuaded by their relatives not to press charges.
“Now I don’t know what was like before the tension, and I don’t know whether the tensions were the beginning of this problem, hatred and disrespect shown to women and children.
“But it is here now, it is in your families, your villages.
“It is destroying the childhood of two out of every five children under the age of 15,” he said.
Justice Pallaras said if government, leaders and community does not do anything to stop and change it, what it might say about this nation is that it might share some of the distorted, outdated, insulting beliefs and values of the men who rape women and assault children.
“Maybe some of us share those beliefs and maybe that is why we don’t have the courage, the nerve, the guts to do something about it.
“And if that is right, then this country is in real trouble.
“Because if good men and women cannot see what is happening right under their noses is wrong, then the children have no hope.
“It is time for change, a time for a revolution in thinking, in attitude. It is time for you to take control of your own future and more importantly, the future of your children.”
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN