Kiribati: New Report Finds High Rates of Violence Against Women
Thursday, September 9, 2010 3:15 PM

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community released a new report detailing the rates of physical, emotional, and sexual violence against the women of Kiribati. The report focuses on the prevalence of violence by intimate partners, while also identifying available services and assessing the link between intimate partner violence and other types of abuse.

The study found that violence against women is a relatively common occurrence in Kiribati. More than two out of every three women reported experiencing either physical or sexual violence, or both, within their initimate partner relationship. In addition, 47% of the women surveyed were found to have experienced emotional abuse by a partner at some time. High rates of childhood sexual abuse were also reported, with nearly a fifth (19%) of respondents reporting that they had been sexually abused before the age of 15. Related to this finding, the report states that women who have experienced intimate partner violence were seven times more likely to have children who also experienced abuse.

Several factors were identified within the study as contributing to the current rates of violence against women in Kiribati. Foremost among these was the prevalence of attitudes viewing violence against women as normal or justified. Other factors highlighted include the normalization of controlling behaviors, the acceptability of using physical punishment to discipline women who transgress expected gender roles, the common use of physical violence to discipline children, the lack of current legal statutes defining partner violence as a crime, and the shortage of formal and accessible support services.

Among the many recommendations offered by the report for future interventions were a number of proposals emphasizing the role community leaders and local establishments have in helping to educate people about contemporary Kiribati culture, so that the younger generation does not believe that culture is a reason justifying violence against women.

Compiled from: Kiribati Family Health and Support Study: A Study on Violence Against Women and Children, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, (2010).