Domestic Violence Harms All of the Family

This is an Opinion Piece by the PPDVP Programme Manager, Cam Ronald.

Women are generally the victims in domestic violence reports to the police.  World wide research, and more recent local surveys in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, demonstrate this.  These surveys are described as “Gender Based Violence studies have been undertaken by the Secretariat for the Pacific Community (SPC) using local women’s groups and NGO’s to complete the surveys to a WHO standard in both the Solomon Islands and Kiribati during 2008 and early 2009.  These surveys paint a picture of wide spread violence against women in both of the countries with some of the highest incidences of violence ever recorded in these surveys.  These surveys have been effective in defining the high levels of harm to victims, their families, and the community, resulting from domestic violence.  The Governments in each of the countries have moved quickly to respond to this challenge and they have put in place a range of responses and initiatives which over time will lead a change in the environment around violence; the harm to victims and their families and to a greater awareness and understanding of domestic violence. “

PPDVP Programme Manager, Cam Ronald, has released statistics from police reports of domestic violence in the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Kiribati to a researcher.  These statistics are drawn from the Jade Investigator / CMIS database operated in each country and analysed by the PPDVP Support Officer, Kim Bloomfield.

Cam says “This analysis has allowed us to take an updated, and fresh, view of the collected data.  There is now up to four years of police domestic violence reports and in  many countries more than 1,000 cases have been investigated by the police service.”  The analysis has allowed a comparison to be made of the gender of the victims and the offenders as reported to the police forces.

Cam notes “Women are clearly the most likely to be harmed by domestic violence, however men may also be victims.  In some countries over 20% of cases are reported by men.  Equally, while men are most likely to be the offenders, there are many cases of men being offended against by women.”

“These statistics on their own do not tell all of the picture” Cam cautions.  “Victimisation of women in domestic violence is often wider than assaults or a single event.  Men generally hold the power in a family, either financially or in what some would describe as a “traditional role”, and this aggravates the harm. A woman may not be able to leave the home; may not have access to support systems; may not have access to funds or security; and may feel powerless. Men may be able to overcome or control these factors, while woman may not be able to. Simple case reporting needs to be carefully analysed to show the true picture.”

The PPDVP is working with the UNDP Men and Boys Programme in the pacific to break the bad behaviour by men and boys and to intervene in the cycle of violence that is so often perpetuated by males through counseling, behavioural management, and education and awareness.   “Women know the harm that comes through domestic violence – it is men that need to understand this and many need to change their behaviour” says Cam.

Details of the analysis can be downloaded from this link.  Domestic Violence Harms ALL of the Family.

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