Tuvalu

Population size: 

2020: 10,580 [1]

2019: 11,646 [2]

Number of people experiencing domestic abuse each year:

Last report was conducted in 2007. It found 41 per cent of women between the ages of 15-49 have experienced violence by a husband or other intimate partner. [3]

Proportion of ever-partnered women aged 15-49 years experiencing intimate partner physical and/or sexual violence in 12 months prior to the survey: 25 %. [4]

Physical and/or Sexual Intimate Partner Violence in the last 12 months against women= 25% [5]

A 2007 Demographic Health Survey found that 47 per cent of women had experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime [6]

No research on male victims or other gender identities.

Cost of domestic abuse to the economy each year:

No research.

Estimated % change due to COVID-19:

No research.


Current law and policy:

On 18 December 2014, Tuvalu’s Parliament passed the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act 2014. This Statute criminalises acts of domestic violence and protects from violence in domestic relationships. 

Suva, Tuvalu’s Parliament, unanimously passed the country’s Family Protection and Domestic Violence Bill last on 18 December after its second and final reading in the House. The Act provides for greater protection from violence within domestic relationship to ensure the safety and protection of all people, including children, who experience or witness domestic violence. The Act recognises that domestic violence, in all its forms, is unacceptable behaviour and a crime. Violence against women and within the family is a human rights violation, depriving women and children of their right to a safe and secure family life. 

SPC RRRT has been providing support to the Government of Tuvalu through the drafting of the Bill in 2011 as well as providing a set of drafting instructions on violence against women legislation that is compliant with global human rights standards and supporting community and national consultations on the Bill in 2013 and in 2014. 


The Tuvalu 2007 Demographic and Health survey reported that four in ten women have been subjected to some type of physical violence, with their current husbands or partners being the main perpetrators. Women whose husbands drink alcohol excessively are far more likely to experience physical, emotional, or sexual violence than those whose partner does not drink. Around half of all reported acts of physical violence were reported by women aged 25-29. At the 60th Session of the UN CEDAW Expert Committee (Geneva 2015)- the Government of Tuvalu confirms its responsibility to eliminate violence against women, and reiterates the enactment of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act is to provide protection for women and girls from domestic violence. Firstly, in the area of legislative development, I am pleased to inform you Madam Chair of the enactment, in December 2014, of the new Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act 2014. This is indeed a significant milestone in Tuvalu’s quest to take responsibility and play its part in global efforts to end Violence Against Women. The enactment of the Act is envisioned to provide greater protection for women and girls from violence within domestic relationships, ensuring the safety and well-being of victims in a domestic relationship and also provide for shelters of victims of domestic violence. Madam Chair, though the journey of the Bill to make it to the doorstep of Parliament was paved with its share of challenges, at times having to discuss and address sensitive issues raised during the stakeholder consultations, I am pleased to report that the Bill was passed unanimously by Parliament. In Tuvalu, The Penal Code does not provide provisions to criminalise Spousal Rape.


Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is a crime punishable by a minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, but spousal rape is not included in the legal definition of this offense. The law recognizes domestic violence as a criminal offense. Under the law domestic violence offenses are punishable by a maximum five years’ imprisonment or a maximum fine of Australian dollars (AUD) 1,000 ($720), or both. Under the assault provisions of the penal code, the maximum penalty for common assault is six months’ imprisonment, and for assault with actual bodily harm, five years.

 Police have a Domestic Violence Unit, a “no-drop” evidence-based prosecution policy in cases of violence against women, and operate a 24-hour emergency telephone line for victims of domestic violence. The law recognizes the existence of domestic violence and gives explicit powers for police involvement and intervention, including the power to enter private property. Police may also issue orders for a person who has committed an act of domestic violence to vacate property, whether or not that individual has rights to that property, if another person at risk of further violence occupies it. The Women’s Crisis Centre provided counselling services, but there were no shelters for abused women. Cases of rape and domestic violence often went unreported due to lack of awareness of women’s rights and traditional and cultural pressures on victims.

According to the Report of the (10-28 September 2018) Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review – Tuvalu (Addendum), the Tuvalu government duly accepts the following recommendations: (i) To ratify the Optional Protocol to CEDAW; (ii) To successfully implement the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act 2014; (iii) To develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce domestic violence; (iv) To strengthen measures against domestic violence; (v) To amend the existing law in Tuvalu, in order to criminalise rape in all circumstances; (vi) To expeditiously operationalize the Family Protection Fund, and ensure the comprehensiveness of the domestic violence baseline study (by the Attorney General’s office)

101.25 Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Denmark);

101.98 Prioritize the full implementation of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act of 2014, including by ensuring that women and girl survivors of violence have access to effective means of redress and protection and by raising societal awareness about the content of the Act (Netherlands);

101.99 Implement the measures identified in the human rights national action plan to address violence against women, including through community education, police training and stronger recording processes (Australia);

101.100 Develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce violence against women, including domestic violence, particularly on the outer islands, by enhancing women’s awareness of their rights and identifying ways to combat such violence (Turkey);

101.103 Take further measures to protect women and children against all forms of violence (Italy);

101.104 Ensure efficient follow-up to the recommendations given by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Israel);

101.107 Amend the Penal Code and the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act in order to criminalize rape in all circumstances (Portugal);

101.110 Fully implement the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act 2014, with the necessary technical assistance of the relevant United Nations agencies such as the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and UNDP where appropriate, expeditiously operationalize the Family Protection Fund, and dedicate the necessary resources to ensure that the family protection and domestic violence baseline study conducted by the office of the Attorney General is comprehensive so as to strengthen the ongoing work to eliminate violence against women in Tuvalu (Singapore);

In the Beijing 25+ National Review Report: Tuvalu (2019), Tuvalu’s has achieved the following progress in combating Domestic Violence: The strengthening of survivors’ rights through the legal framework (and its implementation), establishing a law enforcement Unit specialising in Domestic Violence, and providing the necessary monetary, psychological and healthcare support. 


▪ Several partners including the Gender Affairs Department, Community Affairs Department, Tuvalu Police Service and CSO have worked to support the implementation of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act. They have worked together to increase the public’s understanding of the Act including processes and procedures around reporting and to develop referral pathways. The police force have also put in place: a no drop policy; issuing of police orders, and arrest of offenders (Government of Tuvalu, 2018). This work has also included developing and distributing a brochure in Tuvaluan language outlining the services and support available. 

▪ The Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act includes a provision for certified counsellors to provide counselling services for victims. Basic counselling support has been available since the Gender Affairs Unit was established in 1999 but there were no certified counsellors. Through donor assistance activities have been undertaken to support the development of services and support for survivors of gender-based violence. In November 2017 a training was conducted by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre aimed at establishing a pool of trained women who are sensitive to women and girls disclosing gender-based violence experiences. In 2018 the Fiji Women’s Criss Centre also conducted a training focused on male adomestic violenceocates against gender-based violence. In March 2018, Psychosocial Counsellor Adomestic violenceiser was placed within the Ministry of Community Affairs and Rural Development to provide technical assistance to support the development counselling capacity; providing specialist counselling services; promoting interagency collaboration; and developing referral procedures. A short course in counselling was carried out in 2018 by the Australia Pacific Technical College to deliver three units toward a Diploma in Counselling with plans for the complete diploma training to be offered in country. The 20 course participants (13 women and 7 men) selected were already working or volunteering in the social service sector. 

▪ In 2017 the government endorsed the establishment of the Family Protection Fund which is intended to support women and children survivors of domestic violence. An operational policy has been established, to date the fund has been utilised to support two women and their children.

The Tuvalu Government is involved in ‘The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls’, a programme which seek to prevent violence against women and girls, and ensure survivors’ access to quality response services. The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors. 

To achieve this, the Pacific Partnership aims to transform the social norms that allow violence against women and girls to continue; to ensure survivors have access to quality response services; and to support national and regional institutions to meet their commitments to gender equality and prevention of violence against women and girls. Working through partners, it will promote equal rights and opportunities for all Pacific people, through innovative approaches to education, access to essential services, and policy development.

Increase due to COVID:

On 6 May 2020, the Government of Tuvalu released a Joint Press Statement Protecting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Promoting Gender-responsiveness in the COVID-19 crisis. Tuvalu intends to implement specific measures to prevent violence against women and girls, during the COVID-19 crisis.

H.E. Hon. Simon Kofe, Minister of Justice, Communications, and Foreign Affairs of Tuvalu… The restrictive measures designed to limit the spread of the virus around the world, increase the risk of domestic violence, including intimate partner violence. As health and social protection as well as legal systems that protect all women and girls under normal circumstances are weakened or under pressure by the COVID-19, specific measures should be implemented to prevent violence against women and girls. The emergency responses should ensure that all women and girls who are refugees, migrants or internally displaced are protected. Sexual and reproductive health needs, including psychosocial support services, and protection from gender-based violence, must be prioritized to ensure continuity. We must also assume responsibility for social protection and ensure adolescent health, rights and wellbeing during schools close-down. Any restrictions to the enjoyment of human rights should be prescribed by law, and in accordance with international law and rigorously assessed. 

We support the active participation and leadership of women and girls at all levels of decision-making, including at community level, through their networks and organizations, to ensure efforts and response are gender-responsive and will not further discriminate and exclude those most at risk.


 

Sources


[1] Communauté de Pacifique: Statistics for Development Division, Tuvalu

[2] The World Bank, (1).

[3] Australian Aid & Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development, “Beijing 25+ National Review Report: Tuvalu” (2019)

[4], [5] UN Women, “Global Database on Violence Against Women – Tuvalu”, (evaw-global-database.unwomen.org)

[6] UNICEF (Pacific Office, Suva), “Situation Analysis of Children in Tuvalu” (December 2017)