*Tsunami Strikes
*Women's Human Rights, Violence, Discrimination, Empowerment
Tsunami Strikes Solomon Islands
At least 12 people have died in the Solomon Islands after a tsunami swept ashore following a strong undersea earthquake in the South Pacific.

The main town in the western Solomons, Gizo, was hit by waves several metres high that swamped buildings and washed people out to sea, officials said.

Local officials fear the numbers of dead could rise, with reports of outlying villages being destroyed.

The quake measured 8.0 and hit at 0740 local time on Monday (2040 GMT Sunday).




Women Challenged to Change Attitudes by Josephine Teakeni (VBMS)

On International Women’s Day, hundreds of women marched through the street of Honiara from Lawson Tama to the Cultural Village, led by "women in uniform" – women from the police, prison service and customs service. 


A number of light entertainment features were organised together with the moving dramatisation of hardships faced by many Solomon Island women on a daily basis, while a range of speakers including There was speeches by Dr Junelyn Pikacha, Nanette Tutuo and Janet Tuhaika addressed the themes Gender Violence and Reproductive Health, Women's role in business management, and the National Women's Development Policy. 


Former Permanent Secretary (PS) for Women, and the current PS of the Fisheries Department, Ethel Sigimanu (pictured left) issued a direct challenge to the government and churches of Solomon Islands to do more to address Gender Violence:


"For far too long those who commit violence against women and girls have been allowed to get away with the crimes they have committed.  This is due to several factors.  Within our Solomon Islands context, our cultural values and practices play a major role in excusing the perpetrator from being punished for the violence the person has caused.  If our culture must demand reconciliation, then it must be based on addressing the need of the victim rather than one that is meant to satisfy only the reconciliation parties.  We must operate with a baseline assumption that not all traditions are good and are to be protected.”


Discriminatory traditions that violate women's human rights, said Sigimanu need to be changed, and she noted that sadly churches, which have important influence in Solomon Island communities is not taking a strong enough stand against violence.


Sigimanu also served a reminder of the obligations of the state: “The Government itself cannot be excused.  How much work has it done on the much talked about Violence Against Women's Policy?  How much work has it done to ensure that CEDAW is firmly grounded into our domestic laws?  How awareness has it done on the subject of human rights at the community level?  How much work has it done to see that the National Women's Policy and the institutional and legal framework adequately cater for addressing the issue of gender violence?  How much recognition and support is Government giving to women's NGOs and civil society organizations raising awareness throughout Solomon Islands. The Government has an obligation to guarantee rights and ensure protection under law.  This is a responsibility that the statement simply cannot shy away from."


And she also challenged civil society: “Have we given the issue of gender violence enough emphasis?  Are we collaborating enough?  What happened to the word partnerships?  Are we sharing our resources, ideas, plans, vision for elimating violence against women?  What role is each of us playing and how can be all work together to play a more enhancing role? "


Sigimanu called on the women of Solomon Islands to celebrate March 8th with a difference – as a day of empowerment, unity and one that reiterates that women's rights are human rights.

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