Pacific Media Watch

7 August 2010

REGION: Pacific leaders criticised for 'action' to protect women

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Amnesty International's Merilyn Tahi and Pacific researcher Apolosi Bose criticise violence against women at the Pacific Islands Forum media conference in Port Vila. Photo: Josephine Latu/PMC/Scoop
Amnesty International brands forum moves as 'weak and disappointing'

Derek Cheng

PORT VILA: Amnesty International has condemned the Pacific Islands Forum leaders for being all talk and no action on reducing violence against Pacific women.

After the forum, which concluded in Vanuatu yesterday, Pacific leaders commended themselves for their action and acknowledged a recommendation to set up a reference group on gender-based violence in the future.

But Amnesty International said this was "weak and disappointing".

"Governments need to step up action," said Hannah Harborow, the Amnesty International Australia co-ordinator of the Stop Violence Against Women

"Last year they pledged to eradicate gender-based violence. There hasn't been a lot of movement in the last 12 months. This year we wanted concrete facts about what they will do."

Pacific researcher Apolosi Bose said the forum was simply paying "lip service" to the issue.

"Culture is often used as an excuse for inaction on this issue, but it is not a Pacific tradition to rape, torture, abuse or murder women and young girls."

NZ Prime Minister John Key said violence against women was not specifically discussed at the forum but it was recognised as one of many important issues.

"As part of the Millennium Development Goals in general, it was discussed, but not specifically."

Amnesty International acknowledged "very small steps" such as a national policy in the Solomon Islands to address gender equality and violence against women.

But a study of Samoa, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands had shown that about two-thirds of women had experienced domestic violence in the home.

Meanwhile, Rebecca Emery, deputy director of Amnesty International NZ, criticised NZAid for cutting its funding for the Vanuatu Women's Centre, which also receives funding from AusAid. - The NZ Herald/Pacific Media Watch

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