Solomon Islands government delegation to the recent 14th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 7th Meeting of Pacific Ministers for Women acknowledged the importance of faith-based approaches and partnering with churches and faith-based organisations to address gender based violence (GBV) in the country. 

Head of Solomon Islands Delegation, Minister of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, Honourable Freda Rotutafi Rangirei when endorsing the Triennial conference outcomes said over 90% of Solomon Islands population are identified as Christian, and church attendance is high, providing a key platform for GBV prevention efforts. 

Honourable Rangirei said Solomon Islands has been making progress in area of gender-based violence especially through the roll out of SAFENET Referral Network (SAFENET) to ensure the availability and accessibility of quality and essential services ranging from safe accommodation, legal advice, medical services, protection and counselling through a referral pathway including standard operating procedures however that there is a need for a far greater focus on GBV prevention. 

She said prevention programs that utilise faith-based approaches are effective and appropriate for our context, and should be expanded and strengthened. 

She added there is a need to strengthen, build on and expand existing programs and efforts to incorporate faith-based approaches to ensure our GBV programs are effective to bring about widespread change. 

The Minister said the Solomon Islands government acknowledged the need for a far greater focus on gender based violence prevention, and also working with men to stop the violence before it starts. 

“We must ensure that while we take steps to support victim survivors, we are also trying to address the problem before it begins, through our primary prevention activities,” she said. 

“We also acknowledge the need to ensure that GBV prevention and awareness programs, and GBV services and responses, are balanced and equally resourced and we must ensure that where women are made aware of their rights to access help and support, that this help is available,” she said. 

She added that evidence-based perpetrator intervention programs are lacking but must become a key area of focus moving forward as it is important that perpetrator rehabilitation is relevant and specific to our context. 

The Solomon Islands delegation also acknowledged that perpetrator rehabilitation is key priority, and noted the opportunity for governments and partners, including development partners and external entities, to develop perpetrator rehabilitation initiatives that are both evidence-based and tailored to the Pacific context. 

Solomon Islands recommends that perpetrator rehabilitation, including contextually relevant behaviour programs, are developed in partnership with organisations supporting women and survivors of GBV. 

The Ministerial meeting attended by honourable ministers responsible for women affairs and their senior officials on 4th May followed the 14th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women convened last week from 27 to 29 April by the Pacific Community (SPC). 

Hosted and chaired by French Polynesia, the meeting is delivered via video conference given that travel restrictions are still being observed across the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic.