The 16 days activism of all forms violence against women, which fell on 26th November (White Ribbon Day) to 11th December this year, once again reminded us of how serious the problem is in our communities.
According to the United Nation Special report March 2012, Solomon Islands is among some of the countries in the world with highest rate of violence against women and children.
On the same month last year, the World Bank ranked the Solomon Islands as the worst country in the world for violence against women.
In March this year, it was reported that 67 per cent of women and young girls in the Solomon Islands have either been victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse.
This was revealed by David Kelly of Australian Aid (Ausaid) at the signing of the Referral SAFENET MOU (memorandum of understanding).
He said that this figure, according to an international report on domestic violence, is among some of the highest in the world.
Days Before the close of the 16th Days Activism of Violence against women, UN Women hosted an awareness programme on Monday 9 December, the second to last day of the 16 Days to generate discussion on the issue of violence against women and girls in the Solomon Islands.
Opening the discussion, in her Keynote address Akiko Suzaki, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP, emphasised that “a more equitable, prosperous and sustainable world lies within our reach.
“The initiatives on ending violence against women and girls must be bold and ambitious, signalling transformational change relevant to all people and societies, and for both present and future generations”.
During the white Ribbon Day, 26th November 2013, outgoing Australian High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, Matt Anderson challenged the men of Solomon Islands to take the White Ribbon Day as an oath never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.
“The women affected by violence are our wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. We owe it to them to take this issue seriously to create a society where violence against women is unacceptable,” Anderson said.
“As a White Ribbon Ambassador, I have taken an oath not to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.”
“By ending violence against women, we help improve women’s ability to fully participate in family and community life without fear, and we also give them the chance to contribute socially and economically to the growth and development of Solomon Islands,” he said.
“It is everyone’s responsibility and I encourage everyone to take – and live up to – the White Ribbon Day pledge.”
As the 16 Days of Activism against all forms of violence against women unfolded and has come to a close, one of the victims, women XX who want her identity remain anonymous, shared her 35 years of marriage life, which was hit daily by violence in the home.
Mrs XX in her teary speech to express her emotional and psychological experience said, “being physically hurt is something that comes and go, but the emotional and psychological hurts last for a lifetime”.
“The wounds in your hearts will remain unhealed! The scars in your skin, and some of your fallen teeth were reminders of the tragic story of one’s life”.
She said that the worst wounds she sustained were; the ones on her cheek, her fallen teeth, and when the water from boiled chicken was poured on her, which resulted in part of her head remain bald.
“Only strong and determined women can endure living in such an environment, and raised the kids to acceptable standards. Unfortunately, kids learned from where they were brought up.
“Living in such a violent home after few years of our marriage, I have to develop an alert system that keeps me on a daily basis of my safety as the drunken soul mate would approach when the night fell.
“Drunken or normal, rate of violence remains the same.”
She said that one of the things she does was, she asked her elder son to make a bed for her in the roof of their house so that when she escaped she knows exactly where to lay her head for the night.
“For my safety, the only thing is to escape when he return home intoxicated, and spend a night where my elder son had prepared for me on the roof of our house”.
Mrs XX said that she got married when she and her boyfriend, now husband, were only doing their form five studies at King George VI School.
She said that up to their old ages now, she settled to be an advocator on the issue of Violence against women and children, as her husband was slowly coming back from his old ways.
“I am trying to be an advocator of this issue, so as to try and convince my forever partner to be an advocator as well”.
She said violence against women is real in the Solomons.
“Violence against women is real here in the Solomon Islands. I have been in this marriage for 40 years now.”
She believed that many hearts remained unhealed in the country and had urged young women to look for ideal partners who understand them better.
“Young women, please take your time, to look for and understandable men who can stand by you and your kids in every situation”.
BY CHARLEY PIRINGI