Introduction and context
Vanuatu has one of the highest prevalence rates of violence against women and girls globally. The Vanuatu Women’s Centre research in 2011 found that 60% of women with an intimate partner had experienced physical violence, 68% experienced emotional violence and 69% coercive behavioural control by men. Male family members and boyfriends perpetrate most of the violence and it occurs in all provinces and islands, among all age groups, education levels, socio-economic groups and religions. It is higher in rural (63%) than in urban (50%) areas. Social values held by both women and men reinforce the acceptability of violence towards women and girls and 60% of women agree with at least one “reason” for men to beat their wives.
In Vanuatu, violence is used as punishment and discipline and is accepted and condoned as ‘normal’ behaviour in many communities. This impacts both women and children. Women suffer short- and long-term impacts on their physical, mental and reproductive health. Children’s emotional well-being, protection and schooling suffer, reducing their opportunities for development and pre-disposing them to also accept violence as normal.