Stakeholders working to prevent gender – based and family violence have agreed on the importance of a united and integrated response to the problem.
This came out during an information sharing session on the recently established gender-based violence health clinic, Seif Ples, which has been opened at the Rove police grounds in Honiara. The information session, organised by the RSIPF and RAMSI on 10th October at the Police Headquarters in Honiara, was attended by representatives of the Solomon Islands Government, development partners and non-government organisations.
The new clinic is a confidential and dedicated centre providing survivors of domestic violence with medical care and onward referral to other service providers, whether those be the police, counselling, legal assistance or temporary accommodation. It is a product of a unique partnership between the Ministry of Health, the RSIPF, the Ministry of Police and Honiara City Council, and was established with the support of the British High Commission and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
Speaking at the information session, RAMSI Special Coordinator, Ms Justine Braithwaite said the clinic was intended to facilitate a strengthened government and police response to tackle the high rates of gender-based violence in Solomon Islands.
“The clinic is unique and I understand the only one of its kind in the Pacific region. It provides multi-sectoral support in combing GBV services under one roof. Victims can go in 24 hours, seven days a week and find refuge and safety while staff at the centre arrange for medical care in a sensitised environment and onward referral to SAFENET members as needed,” said Ms Braithwaite.
“I would like to encourage SAFENET members to work together to ensure that the centre helps to support everyone’s goal, providing better services for victims and ensuring safe and sensitized care,” said Ms Braithwaite.
Also speaking at the information session, the RSIPF Commissioner of Police, Mr Frank Prendergast said: “Seif Ples is very important to Solomon Islands and is part of the wider challenge to reduce the unacceptably high levels of family violence in the country. Make no mistake – family violence is a crime. The RSIPF is strongly committed to tackling this crime and Seif Ples will assist in this fight.
On the part of RAMSI, Special Coordinator, Ms Braithwaite highlighted that the Participating Police Force (PPF) Community Policing and Family Violence Protection teams have been supporting the RSIPF to build stronger linkages with communities to tackle violence within the home.
The PPF’s support to RSIPF targets a range of areas including:
- Advocacy and influence on laws and policies
- Social mobilization: raising community awareness through education and training aids, merchandise and advertising;
- Long range community patrols using RAMSI maritime assets, allowing RSIPF to get to remote locations and conduct information sessions on criminal law, family violence and antisocial behaviours; and
- Training of all ranks of RSIPF officers to educate them on the need to understand the dynamics of family violence and how to response to and support victims.
Ms Braithwaite also noted “With support from the PPF, the RSIPF has been able to go out into the provinces and conduct community education and outreach initiatives that have reached some 148,000 Solomon Islands in the past year alone – a fantastic achievement.
“The operation of the Seif Ples clinic is entirely complementary to this work and to the efforts of many others who are seeking to support victims and educate communities on how to stop this pervasive problem,” Ms Braithwaite added.
The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Mr Edmund Sikua; the new RSIPF Commissioner of Police, Mr Frank Prendergast; and the Mayor of Honiara, Mr Andrew Mua also addressed the information session pledging support for the services provided by the Seif Ples clinic.