A group of passionate stakeholders have taken on the challenge to end all forms of violence against women and children in Ha’apai after taking part in a WCCC awareness and training workshop on violence against women and children during the 16 Days of Activism.
The training was led by Lesila Lokotui To’ia, the WCCC Staff Team Leader. The training covered;
– gender, gender stereotyping and its impact on relationships
– carrying out a basic gender analysis to understand the root causes of violence against women
– Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Sexual Harassment, Rape and all forms of sexual violations
– understanding the Family Protection Act, its definition, roles, penalties
– Marriage Consent Age and how it contributes to VAWG
– Identifying and discussing Healthy & Equal Relationships
– Understanding Human Rights and CEDAW – and how it relates to our daily lives
One female participant shared, “understanding gender equality has made me realize that I have always been a slaved wife and that I had made the right choice when I left my husband. Family and friends didn’t understand why I gave up on my marriage just because they thought it was unchristian of me to leave and that I should have stayed and worked things out. But I had been suffering for years and I see myself in that cycle of violence that we are learning about here. I made a good choice and I shouldn’t doubt my decision again because it was the best decision that I have made for myself.”
Participants were given encouraged to discuss some very challenging issues such as religion and culture and the use of narrow interpretations of both culture and religion to discriminate against women. As a result religion and culture was discussed in a more positive light and how it promotes gender equality and non-violent relationships.
A town officer who took part in the training emphasized this by saying, “If we were to show how changed we are through this training, it will be shown in the life we lead at home. It is time that we refrain from physically beating and thrashing our wives and kids as means of discipline. This form of upbringing is violence and we must stop raising angry and violent sons”.
The training ended with the following recommendations from the participants:
- WCCC should establish a branch here in Ha’apai – especially a Safe House which is more urgent
- WCCC awareness programs should be carried out to the outer islands of Ha’apai
- WCCC should establish a focal point in Ha’apai.
The training was held Pangai from the 6th to 9th of December funded by UN Women Pacific Regional Ending Violence Against Women Facility Fund.