There are many myths about gender in Solomon Islands, such as women not being as important as men or that having paid a ‘bride price’, a man has certain rights over his wife.
The Solomon Islands Health and Safety Study (SIFHSS, 2009) found that nearly two-thirds of ever-partnered women, aged 15-49, have experienced physical or sexual violence, or both, by an intimate partner. What is perhaps more concerning is that the majority of women (73%) in Solomon Islands believe that a man is justified in beating his wife under some circumstances.
SEIF PLES is an initiative of the Solomon Islands Government, which is trying to dispel these mistruths and break the cycle of violence in families. The centre offers assistance to people who have suffered from intimate partner violence or domestic violence, sexual violence, family violence or child abuse.
At SEIF PLES, there are five essential services provided:
- Medical first aid
- Psychological first aid
- Medicine to prevent HIV infection, prevent or treat other Sexually Transmitted infections (STIs)
- Vaccinations to prevent Hepatitis B or Tetanus
- Emergency contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies as a result of rape.
Being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week provides valuable free resources to both women and men, as well as children. SEIF PLES recommends that people try to get to the clinic as soon as possible after an assault or rape in order to provide maximum medical treatments and preserve evidence. Then they can help put a person in touch with the ongoing medical care, counselling, shelters, legal aid and police services they may need.
SEIF PLES opened on July 15 this year and is located off Mendana Avenue, in front of the Rove Police Club, Honiara.
With SEIF PLES up and running, it’s important now to spread the word about the important services it provides and that violence is not acceptable in Solomon Islands.
If you, or someone you know, would benefit from the services of SEIF PLES you are welcome to visit anytime, or you can call the helpline on 132. If a situation is violent and you need the police, call 999 or 23666.