Mii Upu and Ake Lewis of the Cook Islands delegation, attended the 14th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women. 21042716.
More efficient data collection methods have revealed a disturbing increase in gender-based violence in the Cook Islands.
Internal Affairs secretary Anne Herman says
their statistics “are telling us that girls between the age of about 11 to 15
are high risks”.
In 2019 Internal Affairs began more efficient
data collection that now includes the types of incidents and the age and gender
of the children, which in turn has revealed the worrying figures.
“Over 50 per cent of the cases we have are
including little girls in that age range from pre-teen to early teen,” Herman
She noted that the reporting of such
incidences to authorities is increasing.
Herman was speaking at the 14th Triennial
Conference of Pacific Women which involves a series of meetings and
consultations aimed at sustaining the momentum towards gender equality in the
Gender based violence is a big issue in the
Cook Islands as numbers continue to have disturbing rising domestic violence
statistics, an increase in child protection issues, neglect, abuse issues,
assault, and sexual violence upon our children, the Internal Affairs secretary
Herman said human rights is about gender
equality “and whilst we do very well on some platforms like the heads of
ministries, members of parliament … there are still many areas that need to be
improved. We want more women to stand in the next election”.
One of the challenges they face is getting
more women into male dominated areas like the Cook Islands Police Service – not
just in numbers, but also in practice, Herman said.
“The way that you are treated as a woman,
having your voice respected by your peers, and the money that you earn,” are
some of the advances she hopes the conference will help to achieve.
Herman is certain there is a need to keep
conducting these conferences to keep getting women and men together, to have
good gender balance.
“So that men are aware of the things that
they’re doing that hinder our progress, and women are aware of the things that
they are doing to our own women, that hinders our progress.”
The hope is that women continue to invest in
and take care of themselves and not have the view that attending a conference
is a burden.
“We want our women to come to these types of
things and to enjoy it, that’s why we try to make the conference interactive
and a little bit fun,” Herman said.
“I want us to be more less alienated from
those types of things like accepting help, and allowing people to make you feel
vulnerable and that you need help.
“I want women to be more comfortable with that
in our country, rather than having to always be the strong mother, the strong wife,
the strong supportive daughter …”
The three-day conference held at The
Rarotongan Resort and Spa concluded yesterday.
French Polynesia was the host of this year’s
conference and ministers’ meetings, which will be held across the Pacific on
Monday next week, via the conference app Zoom due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Cook Islands seminar is facilitated by the
Ministry of Internal Affairs.