Australia holds White Ribbon against Domestic Violence workshop as PSL again debates Family Safety bill


By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
November 21, 2016
Pohnpei, FSM—Domestic violence and abuse of any sort is despicable and completely unacceptable and yet one of three women worldwide who have ever been involved in a relationship (ever-partnered) has experienced it in one form or another. The statistics in the FSM reflect the global statistics. “Almost one in three ever-partnered women in the FSM (32.8%) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner at least once in their life.”
This week during the White Ribbon against Domestic Violence campaign of the United Nations, the Australian Embassy conducted a well-attended workshop on the issue at The College of Micronesia FSM. Eliza Woolcock of the Embassy gave an excellent power point production explaining that anyone can be a victim of Domestic violence and abuse but that a large majority of the victims are women.
Australia’s Ambassador George Fraser said that Violence against women is unacceptable, anywhere anytime and that eliminating it is a priority of the Australian Government and a key part of its foreign policy and overseas aid program.
“The Pohnpei Legislature has been considering the proposed “Family Safety Act” legislation for eight years,” he told the students. “Australia welcomes the current consideration of legislation and would support its timely passage but it needs support from the community, from you. I would encourage you all to find out more about this legislation, how it affects you, and how you can become involved. There are public hearings you can attend to make sure the voices of youth in Pohnpei are heard.”
“Violence against women is a symptom of gender inequality and takes many forms of abuse including physical, emotional, religious, social and financial abuse,” he told them. “But underlying it all is the idea that women and girls do not have the same importance and rights as men and boys.

“Men, this is our challenge, one that we must all address in our everyday lives and actions. We must stop tolerating poor behaviour by other men and boys. We must also make sure our sons respect girls as their equals and our daughters realise that being a woman does not limit their potential. Ending violence against women and girls is an enormous challenge, but one that we can address by supporting those who have been subject to violence and by taking a stand in our communities,” he said.
Ambassador Fraser said that he had met with several of Pohnpei’s Senators to discuss the issue of the stalled family bill at the Pohnpei State Legislature. He said that the conversation was productive and encouraging. He hoped that this legislature would pass what no other legislature before has been able to pass.
Some of Pohnpei’s women’s groups have adopted a sort of battle cry—“Domestic Violence is not my culture”. Many of them say that the proposed family safety act has languished in committee for far too long at the great expense of the people of Pohnpei and for all of the wrong reasons.
The Australian Embassy will hold a white ribbon reception at the Embassy housing complex this Friday evening. The week will culminate with a sunset White Ribbon “walk about”, a fun run/ walk beginning at Mangrove Bay on Saturday evening.