Young Girls At Risk of Sexual Violence in Solomon Islands

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UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women Rashida Manjoo today reported that young girls are at risk of violence in Solomon Islands wherein 64 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 who have ever been in a relationship have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence.

The UN Special Rapporteur underlines that Solomon Islands must do more to protect women from violence and provide victims of gender inequality and discrimination access to justice.

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A Malaitan Chief.

On her five-day visit to the Pacific Ocean nation, the Special Rapporteur cites “alarming” reports of young girls being abused by employees of fishing and logging companies in remote areas of the country.

She cites that young girls face sexual and commercial exploitation or are sometimes given away by their families in exchange for compensation such as money or material goods.

Ms. Manjoo pointed out that there is “limited avenues of justice” available to women in the Pacific Ocean nation.

The lack of any specific legislation on the issue of violence against women as the country’s penal code does not criminalize some forms of domestic violence such as marital rape, Ms. Manjoo noted.

In addition, she said the nation, composed of nearly 1,000 islands, faces structural obstacles such as lack of infrastructure, human and financial resources, insufficient qualified judges, magistrates and lawyers – which severely limit women’s access to formal justice system.

Ms. Manjoo argued that the five years of ethnic tensions from 1998 to 2003 have left a legacy of violence against women, including rape, torture, loss of property and displacement.

“The transition from a process of peacebuilding to one of state-building should not deny women victims of their right to both accountability and other redress measures for these past crimes.” – Ms. Manjoo

Foreign aid accounts for over 60 per cent of the development budget of the Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands gained its independence in 1976. However, the country’s independence was granted on 7th July 1978.

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