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Document Abstract
Published: 2008

Violence against women in Melanesia and East Timor: building on global and regional promising approaches

Women’s low status in Melanesia and East-Timor root cause of gendered violence
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Violence against women is a major barrier to development in Melanesia (a region that comprises most islands located north and northeast of Australia) and East Timor. This report assesses efforts to date in the region in terms of reducing violence against women. The paper argues that women’s low status in the region is the major obstacle to reducing violence against them.

The document underscores that women are often considered to be “at fault” and, therefore, deserving of the violence. In addition, violence is often seen as a private, family matter in which outsiders should not intervene.

The author points that the two most common forms of violence against women in M&ET region are physical, psychological and economic violence by intimate partners; and all forms of sexual violence perpetrated by intimate partners or others.

Conclusions are as follows:

  • customary practices, alongside economic factors, make it difficult, and often impossible, for women to protect themselves from violence
  • efforts to reduce violence against women must be long-term, and focused on addressing structural inequalities together with providing victim support and access to justice
  • multi-sectoral solutions are required, as isolated interventions are largely ineffective
  • strategies to reduce violence against women include raising awareness and changing community attitudes about violence
  • in this context, identifying and transforming gender norms, and engaging men and youth as allies in ending violence against women are highly recommended

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M. Ellsberg; C. Bradley; A. Egan

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