Monday, 8 March 2010 9:53 AM

Level of Violence against Women in Pacific among Highest in the World

According to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) statistics, women in the region suffer from a level of violence that is among the most severe in the world.

According to the Fiji Times Online, the UNIFEM statistics were as high as 85 per cent in some countries with regional studies showing that in the Fiji Islands, '80 per cent of women went through some form of violence in the home'.

In the Solomon Islands, 55 per cent of women in the country reported experiencing sexual partner violence and 37 per cent of women reported sexual abuse before the age of 15.

Similarly, 68 per cent of i-Kiribati women reported experiencing at least one act of physical or sexual violence, or both, by an intimate partner, and in Samoa, 46 per cent of women who have ever been in a relationship have experienced one or more kinds of partner abuse.


According to the report by Fiji Times Online, UNIFEM regional program director Elizabeth Cox said 'while advances had been made towards women's empowerment and gender equality in the Pacific, women throughout the region continued to experience gender-based discrimination in too many aspects of their lives'.

"UNIFEM, and the whole of the UN family, is committed to working with governments to close the gap between commitments made by Pacific Governments and the reality of women's and girls' everyday lives," she said. UNIFEM revealed that women were particularly at risk of infection through adultery from their partners and exposure to sexual violence, which increases their vulnerability to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

"In the Pacific, women represent half of all reported HIV cases, with approximately 13,300 men and 15,000 women living with HIV in 2008," a UNIFEM statement said.

"Women in the Melanesian sub-region experience particular forms of violence such as arranged and forced marriage, mistreatment of widows, sorcery murders and sexual trafficking that reflect the rapid and complex transition they are making from traditional to modern, cash-based societies."