On Friday September 9th Amnesty International New Zealand presented Kiribati’s President, Anote Tong, with a petition regarding sexual and gender-based violence in the Pacific.
Amnesty International says the petition started in November 2010 and has gathered over 21,000 signatures.
The petition aims to convince Pacific leaders to “implement laws to prevent violence, punish offenders, compensate survivors, and to put into practice human rights conventions that protect women from violence.”
“Every single one of those signatures is a call for action to Pacific Island leaders,” says Patrick Holmes, Amnesty International New Zealand’s Chief Executive. “And as the largest petition [we have] presented, it highlights the depth of concern shared on this issue.”
“Gender-based violence is a pervasive and systematic issue and the Pacific region has amongst the worst rates in the world, with two in three experiencing abuse,” reports Amnesty International.
Currently in Kiribati 68% of partnered women experience at least one act of physical and/or sexual violence from their partner.
Further Kiribati statistics show that 46% of women experienced severe physical violence.
The Kiribati government is in talks proposing domestic violence legislation.
The petition was presented in the midst of the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum which took place last week in Auckland.
The Pacific Islands Forum was established in 1971 and is currently run by 16 independent states.
Some of the attendees present at the forum included the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Pacific leaders, and organisations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, and the Fair Trade Association.
While Amnesty International wrote to all Pacific Island leaders, Kiribati is the only Pacific nation to accept the petition thus far.
Patrick Holmes, Chief Executive of Amnesty International
New Zealand, presenting the petition to Anote Tong,
President of Kiribati.
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