According to statistics from the Health Demographics in Timor-Leste study conducted in 2010, 38 per cent of young women aged 15 years old in Timor-Leste fell victim to physical abuse. The same study revealed that up to 74 per cent of married women also experience some kind of physical abuse by their husbands.“Often people see the problem of gender based violence and domestic violence as a private family issue but it is a public issue,” said the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality (SEPI), Idelta Maria Rodrigues, in her speech during a workshop to develop a National Plan of Action (PAN) to fight Gender Based Violence, held at Hotel Timor, Dili, last week.
SE Rodrigues said gender based violence occurs in many ways including sexual violence, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and sexual harassment at work, with the most common type of gender based violence being domestic violence.“It common in our culture to think of sexuality as a taboo topic, but now that the issue has become more visible, it isolates the victims. Often victims are not able to get assistance or access to other support services,” added the SE.The SE believes this is why PAN is very important in the fight against gender based violence because it has three stages. The first stage is one of consultation, the second is the approval from the Council of Ministers and the third phase is the implementation of the plan.“I hope everyone is committed to adequately implement this plan, so that we can reduce gender based violence over the next three years,” said SE Rodrigues.In the meantime, according to the CAUCUS-Rede Feto Advocacy Officer, Laura Pina, gender based violence is a national problem that will require everyone to contribute in the fight against it.“There is a guarantee already in our national law, and also at the international level that says that violence within the family or in public is a crime and needs to be addressed as per the [legal] processes put in place.”
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