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Fiji Time: 7:48 PM on Friday 1 August

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Laws lack effect

Felix Chaudhary
Friday, November 16, 2012

FIJI is one of three countries in the Pacific with existing laws that specifies violence in family or intimate situations and a legislative basis for a protection order.

However, these laws were often not understood by the police and judicial system and, as a result, not applied consistently or not applied at all, said senior trainer with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's regional rights resource team, Gina Houng-Lee.

She made the statement while addressing participants at the sixth quadrennial Pacific regional meeting on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls in Nadi.

Ms Houng-Lee said while regional leaders may have made several declarations on addressing sexual and gender-based violence through legislation, the "political will" to translate commitments to national legislation and implementation of these laws was also critical.

"At a regional level we have the political will by the leaders to address sexual and gender-based violence legislation. But then there are challenges with trying to implement these, in-country. Some of the legislative changes have been piecemeal, only fixing one part of the problem.

"There is a deep structural problem that we're trying to deal with. We're trying to deal with the root causes of the problem," she said.

Ms Houng-Lee informed participants at the week-long conference that no country in the Pacific had developed comprehensive integrated legislation that encompassed all forms of violence against women.

She said only three countries —Fiji, the Republic of Marshall Islands and Vanuatu— had stand-alone domestic violence legislation.


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