Dear Editor – Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela in his New Year message to the people of the Solomon Islands advised everyone to be positive about tomorrow despite the many challenges the country faced in 2017.
The PM was essentially referring to the difficulty the country had faced in the past year in meeting the desired development goals because of the nation’s ongoing financial problems.
“Although issues facing the economy and other sectors have not been resolved, Prime Minister Houenipwela said the country’s citizens continue to persevere,” the Prime Minister urged.
Perseverance in the hope of attaining the desired development goals, perhaps, but not in the wider sense of ‘other sector’ matters and here I single out the ongoing occurrences of gender based violence perpetrated against women, girls and even infants.
The last few weeks have seen reports of shocking cases of sexual abuse occurring in the Solomon Islands and such exploitation must be stopped by concerted efforts of all decent citizens, aided by the church, the law, the courts and rights organizations.
In the early 90’s I saw the early development of a women’s right movement and later the Ministry for Women was established and followed by the important National Plan for Women in 1998.
Since those days I have witnessed the tremendous efforts made by women for equal rights and an end to gender based violence, supported by help from UN organizations and other agencies putting in huge sums of money to help the fight against the violence and sexual abuse suffered by women in the Solomon Islands.
Perseverance is no longer acceptable and the root causes of gender based violence, said to be the historically unequal power relationship between men and women in the Solomon Islands and the fact that, in the past.
Traditional violence against women and girls was continually denied and suppressed by society, must really be addressed for ‘enough is enough.’
If some men in the Solomon Islands still believe that the use of violence is a legitimate and justifiable way to discipline a woman for ‘transgressing their gender roles’, then such ideas must be changed by education with support from the church, community leaders, rights organizations and by strict enforcement of the law.