Thursday 02 April 2020 (Honiara, Solomon Islands) Members of the national SAFENET domestic violence network are anticipating an increase in domestic violence, as the country puts in place measures to prevent any cases of COVID-19.

With the Government advising people to stay home as a safety measure to protect themselves from the virus (known as ‘social distancing’), there is a high risk that women, girls and child victims and survivors of violence may find themselves trapped in the house with their abuser.

Both China1 and France2 have reported a rise in domestic violence due to COVID-19. While gender-based violence is always about power and control, unemployment or changes in circumstances affecting the family income, and isolation can contribute to rising stress and tension, leading to a higher risk of domestic violence.

Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs’ National SAFENET Coordinator, Juliana Zutu, emphasises that victims and survivors of violence are not alone during this time.

“The NDOC Protection committee has established a subcommittee, the Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies committee specifically to ensure that victims and survivors of gender-based violence are prioritised and provided with support and essential services throughout this period of COVID-19.” she said.

“SAFENET agencies have developed safety plans for both victims and survivors, as well as their agency staff. This means that if face-to-face engagement is unsafe and not possible due to movement restrictions, you can still call the toll-free SAFENET Domestic Violence Helpline 132, which is operational 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Help is still available.” SAFENET is working in collaboration with other agencies to ensure that the safety of women and girls are prioritised and is well coordinated. The network is working closely with all partners including UN Women through the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls. Under the Pacific Partnership, UN Women has been supporting SAFENET in Gender-Based Violence in Emergency (GBViE) preparedness work by ensuring the network’s system is able to respond to domestic violence in ‘normal times’ and during emergency or crisis. SAFENET is very well placed and ready to provide technical support to the GBViE committee. The Pacific Partnership is funded primarily by the European Union with targeted support from the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, with cost sharing from UN Women.

“If you’re facing domestic violence or family violence, call us on 132 any time. Please keep safe and support each other. No matter what you are going through, do not resort to using violence against your loved ones.”

SAFENET members also encourage victims and survivors to make safety plans. Family Support Centre have trained counsellors available who can provide client centred, empowerment focussed counselling to assist those experiencing domestic violence to develop their own plan to keep safe (see contact details below).

It is important to look after your health and to closely follow all Ministry of Health and Medical Services guidelines and remember to “protect yourself and protect others from Coronavirus”.

Important Toll-Free Numbers

Police – 999

Royal Solomon Islands Police Force Family Violence Office - 20023

SAFENET Domestic Violence Helpline – 132

Family Support Centre – 20619