Vanuatu

Population size: 

299,882 (2019) [1]

Number of people experiencing domestic abuse each year:

Physical and/or Sexual Intimate Partner Violence in the last 12 months: 44%. Proportion of ever-partnered women aged 15-49 years experiencing intimate partner physical and/or sexual violence in the last 12 months'. [2]

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:

Vanatu was the first Pacific Island country to pass targeted legislation on this issue with the Family Protection Act 2008. It was controversial and took 11 years from drafting to be passed. It creates the criminal offence of domestic violence and provides for civil protection orders. The act creates a sentence of five years or a fin of up to VUV100,000, or both. Family protection orders can also be issued if it deemed likely that the defendant would commit an act of domestic violence against the complainant.

The opposition faced by the legislators was largely from powerful groups such as the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs and the Vanatu Christian Council who argued that the legislation contradicted Melanesian and Christian values. There was an unprecedented court case between the Office of the President who opposed the legislation and the Office of the Attorney General who supported the new law and the women’s rights movement. The later was ultimately successful.

Implementation of the law was limited due to a lack of resources. There has been a steady increase in Family Protection Orders from 2009 to 2014. However, the number of orders is still very low when compared with the prevalence of domestic abuse. [3]


In Vanuatu any form of domestic abuse is regarded as breaking the Family Protection Order – an order granted by the court to protect victims of domestic violence, yet Vanuatu National Survey on Women’s Lives and Family Relationships (the only nationwide study conducted on violence against women ) has revealed high rates of sexual and gender-based violence. The study has found that approximately 60 percent of women who have ever been married, lived with a man, or had an intimate sexual relationship with a partner, experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. It also shows that violence is higher in rural areas (63% opposed to 50% in urban areas), supported by the UN Women research, which classifies vulnerability and inability to meet basic needs high at 44% percent of the population residing in the capital.

Domestic violence increases within climate- affected areas, such as Vanuatu, which ranks 5th most climate risk affected country on the Global Climate Risk index, because it is a result of scarcity of basic provisions, increased stress due to loss of income, loss of property and destruction of social networks. The Tropical Cyclone Harold date have revealed that emotional abuse from an intimate partner in MALAMPA was registered at 80%, SANMA at 78% and in PENAMA at 77% compared with 68% at a national level. The gap between immediate or emergency relief and funding for sustainable development and inclusive growth goals in these areas obscure women’s safety, as gender is often considered a secondary issue and not a priority in emergency responses, and this intensifies during and immediately after disasters. [4]


Frontline Services:

 

Sources


[1] The World Bank, (1).

[2] Vanuatu Women’s Centre, 2011. The Vanuatu National Survey on Women’s Lives and Family Relationships. Port Vila, Vanuatu.

[3] http://dpa.bellschool.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/publications/attachments/2019-03/ib_2019_7_kanan_final.pdf

[4] https://actionaid.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Monash-GRACC-Report-Vanuatu.pdf ; https://dailypost.vu/news/increase-of-domestic-abuse-in-cyclone-affected-areas/article_f7f418ec-8b5f-11ea-ba34-576c82bc5401.html