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Step up in women’s rights

IN recent years, there has been increased awareness on gender-based violencerelated issues in the Pacific, in particular relation to violence against women (VAW). But it was difficult to gauge the overall impact of this effort on the lived experiences of Pacific women. In a snapshot, 11 Pacific Island countries (PICs) now have some form of family protection or domestic violence legislation, and several more have similar bills under consultation or waiting to be tabled in Parliament.

According to Martin Child, Senior Human Rights Adviser at the Pacific Community’s Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), there has absolutely been improvement in the state of women’s human rights in the Pacific in recent years. He said significant increases in many countries in the number of incidents reported to authorities was generally taken to be a positive sign as it signaled increased trust in the police and courts, empowerment of women to speak against their attackers, and improved functioning of the justice chain.

“We have seen the establishment of national gender policies in several countries, significant increases in the capacity of national women’s machineries, and a slow but steady trend of increasing women’s political participation and representation,” he said.

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