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Kiribati president accepts 21,000-plus petition for Pacific women safety

Amnesty International chief executive Patrick Holmes presents the petition to Kiribati President Anote Tong. Photo: Amnesty International

Pacific Scoop
Report – By the PMC news desk

Kiribati President Anote Tong has become the first and only Pacific leader so far to accept a petition of more than 21,000 signatures protesting against sexual and gender-based violence in island states.

“We want to thank and commend President Tong in taking this step forward,”  said Amnesty International Aotearoa/New Zealand’s chief executive Patrick Holmes.

“Every signature is a demand for change in the Pacific. It is imperative that leaders take notice and ‘change the lights on women’s rights’.

PIF 40 years logo“Pacific countries must implement national legal frameworks and strengthen policies to protect women from sexual and gender-based violence.”

He said it was now up to Pacific leaders to take action.

Amnesty International wrote to Pacific Island leaders asking them to accept its petition during this week’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit.

Since November 2010, Amnesty has collected 21,055 signatures asking leaders to implement laws to prevent violence, punish offenders and compensate survivors, and to put into practice human rights conventions that protect women from violence.

Kiribati’s sexual and gender-based violence rates are indicative of the Pacific’s plight – with 68 percent of once partnered women experiencing at least one act of physical or sexual violence – or both – by an intimate partner.

But Kiribati is also showing strong leadership in combating the issue with the government currently in discussion about proposed domestic violence legislation.

Holmes also praised the work of Women’s Rights and Advocacy and the Pacific (WRAP), a group of New Zealand based NGOs of which Amnesty International is a member, for their contribution.

A WRAP seminar and the release of an Amnesty International report about sanitation and safety for women in the Solomon Islands were presented at AUT University in association with the Pacific Media Centre earlier in the week.

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