Women’s experiences of family violence services in Solomon Islands

Family violence Violence against women Victims of family violence Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands has high rates of violence in families – with 64% of women between the age 15 – 49 years found to have experienced sexual and physical violence by an intimate partner. In response to this pressing security issue, Solomon Islands Government has taken a number of measures including the gazetting of the Family Protection Act 2014 (FPA) in April 2016.

Key government agencies such as police, justice, women and health were collectively trained in a wholeof-government response to provide services to advance protection and safety of women and girls. These agencies are referred to collectively as service providers in the report and are the implementers of the FPA in Solomon Islands. The FPA includes options for women to take out Police Safety Notices (PSN) (issued by police, valid for 21 days with conditions for violent perpetrators), Protection Orders (more permanent orders issued by the courts), pursue court cases and obtain other services such as counselling.

Three years later, in April 2019, this research project began fieldwork to ask women what their experience was of using services under the FPA and whether these services had improved their personal sense of safety. This study aims to learn from survivors’ stories – particularly about how they have accessed, used and received support from the service providers as stipulated by the FPA – to examine the effectiveness of the legislation functions from a service user perspective. Through gathering and comparing the perspectives of women survivors of violence, this report has identified what is working well, what is not working so well, and what changes to the process could enable more women to be more satisfied with outcomes.

This report is a collaborative effort with many contributors. The main data set includes interviews with 126 people who have used FPA services – 123 women and 3 men – in Guadalcanal, Isabel, Malaita, Temotu, Western Province, plus 24 province-based staff (a total of 150 interviews). This study represents the perspectives of approximately 10% of all women who have used the family protection system from 1 January 2016 to 1 September 2019. A representative sample of women living in urban and rural areas was selected across five provinces where violence is high and there have been some records of service use to date.

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