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Building trust to speak up on violence in small communities






 



Ms Asita MolottiDirector of Women’s Affairs in Tuvalu. 


“To be a good counsellor you have to build trust. Particularly in small communities where everyone knows each other,” says Asita Molotti, Director of Women’s Affairs in Tuvalu. Asita works closely with the Department of Police, Health and Attorney General’s Office to provide services on domestic violence. The partnership drives the efforts outlined in Tuvalu’s Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act.

The Department of Police provides the lead support in preventing domestic violence and investigating all cases while the Department of Women provides counselling support in the absence of registered counsellors. According to Asita “We always have to be prepared, as a victim can call us anytime. It can be very late at night but I listen and provide counselling where it’s necessary.” A few years back she attended a training on counselling with the Fiji Women’s Crisis Center which has built her confidence to approach such cases. The Department recognises the benefits of providing counselling services and is looking to increase the number of qualified registered counsellors in 2016.

In Tuvalu, as in many countries, there is stigma around domestic violence which prevents victims from reporting cases and accessing services. The Department has recently changed its approach and is openly encouraging more people to talk about the issue.

Maintaining confidentiality is a challenge but Asita has developed creative approaches, “we meet in different places such as sports field in town, we find places where perpetrators are comfortable to meet and share their problems.” Many of the men Asita has seen recently were referred to the Department by their friends. This emerging trend shows that some men are taking steps to correct their behavior and access the counseling services.
 

To mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence the Forum Secretariat and SPC are sharing stories from across the Pacific of successful programs that are addressing gender related issues and highlighting the regional policies that guide them. Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration has a specific priority on ending violence against women  see link on the Declaration related commitments include the Ministerial Communiques and Pacific Women’s Triennial Outcomes. The 2015 Pacific Regional MDGS Tracking Report Progress noted Tuvalu’s progress  in this area. The Tuvalu Police received training as first respondents to violence against women case which will assist with the implementation of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act.


 

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