Understanding and combating violence against girls and women was the aim of a week-long workshop held at Nivenue on east Epi.

Like other villages in the eastern Varsu Area Council, people at Nivenue have little knowledge on understanding and combating violence.

A lot of cases happening in the village often go unreported.

Women in rural areas are less likely to report violence compared to Port Vila where they have access to support services.

Another common reason is that women think it’s acceptable according to their village culture for men to hit women.

They also fear revenge.

They are ashamed to admit to families, friends and police even though they are repeatedly affected.

The workshop highlighted how a woman is regarded in the society, a contributing factor to constant violence, police on Epi have conveyed.

The workshop was organized by police in partnership with the Women’s Centre.

Police said: “The society looks down on women.

“That they are not allowed to take part in decision makings and suppose to stay back at home, wash and cook for their family.

“Throughout the workshop, we talked about gender equality.

“We explained to participants that everyone are born with same responsibilities and rights therefore, should be treated fairly regardless of gender.

“We discussed consequences of domestic violence on children, family and the community.

“We told them that violence would lead to separation/divorce or death in family.”

The workshop was attended by mostly women and girls.

Asked if they are satisfied with the workshop, police said they want to see ongoing awareness on the island to tackle attitudes to violence and abuse.