Hennah Joku, journalist, GBV survivor and advocate. Photo: Supplied/ PIF/23120821
Pacific governments have a lot to prove in the fight against gender-based violence, a Papua New Guinean survivor and activist says.
is an issue that's worldwide," freelance journalist and gender-based
violence survivor Hennah Joku said.
said the issue is rampant in PNG.
as a region, really just [need to] face and accept that it is a pandemic,"
UN's annual international campaign against gender-based violence is well
underway, ending Saturday, 10 December on Human Rights Day.
Pacific has one of the highest recorded rates of violence against women and
girls globally; with two out of three women subjected to physical and/or sexual
violence in their lifetime.
said for many, conversations about the issue were hidden behind culture.
violence] is not cultural Because of that cultural attachment it's a taboo
topic," she explained.
said Pacific nations needed to be celebrating culture not attaching it to
ancestors and forefathers didn't live like this," she said.
leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the 2012 Pacific Leaders Gender Equality
Declaration last month in Rarotonga.
forum chair Tonga Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni said there was
a push for action at the political level to ensure change trickled down.
that political support is crucial," he said.
know we have adopted it before, this is basically re-energising the
adoption," Hu'akavameiliku said.
Islands Forum Secretariat gender specialist Dr Fiona Hukula said real change
following the declaration has been slow off the mark.
don't want to say that nothing's been done, I think there's been a lot of
progress," Dr Hukula said.
we have a lot of work to do, there's been a lot of progress.
we do know that if we're going to really have an impact on our future
generations we as Pacific people, all of us, have to own this issue and work
towards a safe and free society that all of us can contribute to."
leaders endorsed the pledge in 2012. Ten years later, in 2022, there was a
review of the declaration and now leaders have only just revitalised it.
a declaration for all of us, including those of us who work for the regional
agencies," Dr Hukula said.
partners who come in to support to ensure that we're working collaboratively
and supporting the needs of our member countries to ensure that they're also
able to deliver on this declaration."
Hukula said changes were needed after the independent review, which found
people were not aware of the leaders' commitments, there was no ownership of
the declaration and no oversight.
that the declaration has been endorsed, we are working on an implementation
plan," she said.
is going to be a high level political commitment, it will be a high level
implementation plan and monitoring and evaluation plan."
is pleased to see the leaders make a commitment to ensure change happens.
said action was needed now, not in another ten years.
will force the governments to realise how much of a pandemic it is, as much as
climate change is and the other issues that we are facing.
New Guinea, specifically, and each of our Pacific countries to a degree, if you
can just tackle gender-based violence, by default, you will automatically be
addressing the other issues that come with it," she said.
she believes tackling the issue requires both a top-down and bottom-up
have to be fixing our systems and our laws, changing what needs to be changed
at national level, in our own countries that filters down to local level [in
the community], district, and village level," she said.
Hukula, who is also from PNG, believes having women in decision making
positions is vital for real change to kick in.
women at the highest level - political leadership - ensures that we bring
different views," she said.
I speak to diversity, it's not just about having women there at the table, but
it's bringing different views and views on many things, including gender
equality," she said.
pledge does not mention LGBTQIA+ communities but it does make reference to
'women and girls in all their diversity', Dr Hukula said.