Domestic violence victims to access new free phone help line

Victims of domestic violence can now call for help when they need it using a new, Vanuatu Women’s Centre free landline number –161,

The Coordinator for the Vanuatu Women’s Centre, Tatavola Matas, says the landline will also provide counselling to women and girls around Vanuatu, not just domestic violence victims.

She says victims who are unable to reach the police, including those living outside Efate, will be able to use the new 161 number to reach the centre’s networks and the centre will then get police to respond.

The Director General for the Ministry of Justice, Dorosthy Kenneth Watson, launched the help line.
Australian High Commissioner in Vanuatu, Sarah deZoetan, says the the women’s centre has aspired to establish such a service for a long time.

“Today we are here to witness this dream come true for the centre,” Mrs deZoetan said.

Mrs deZoetan said the Vanuatu Women’s Centre was “an essential service provider” who required a free phone help line landline like other important services such as, police, hospital and paramedics.

Mrs deZoeten said violence is a challenge faced by everyone but she urged everyone to “stand strong together to say no to domestic violence”.

Vanuatu women’s rights advocate, Yasmine Bjornum, says a United Nations led campaign to raise awareness and organise against domestic violence started on 26 November.

She says in Vanuatu, the UN’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence which is centred on respect in 2020, will also focus on Vanuatu’s 40th Independence Anniversary.

“The rate of violence against women and girls in Vanuatu is still very high,” she said.

She says a video on respect will be shown on Television blong Vanuatu and other media platforms to advocate against domestic violence.

“During these 16 days our country will look at its achievements and the importance of the six different human rights conventions that we have signed,” she told VBTC.

Many of these conventions signed by Vanuatu promote the safety and protection of women and girls.

The first convention to be celebrated on 3 December will be the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This week, a parade took place in Port Vila to launch the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

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