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Domestic Violence

Kiribati society has been traditionally male dominated with women as subordinate.

Elder men are the decision makers for communities.

After marriage, women move into their husband's household where they assume a subordinate position. Women undertake the bulk of domestic chores.

Women have less access to employment.

I-Kiribati women are still subordinate to men in many aspects of their lives. This includes within both the household and national economies, within community and national politics, in their access to economic resources, and in their capacity to make decisions about their lives, health and lifestyles.

Domestic violence is usually linked to alcohol consumption and jealousy between partners.

Kiribati women face a high level of domestic violence. Kiribati has one of the highest rates of mental, physical and sexual abuse against women in the world. More than 68 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 years who had been in a partnership had experienced physical or sexual violence. Violence from male partners is often severe involving punching, kicking and the use of weapons.

Violence was regarded as acceptable in Kiribati as many women believe men are justified in beating their wives, especially is the wife is unfaithful or disobedient. Previously, the law did not regard partner violence as a crime. However, in 2014 the Family Peace Act (Te Rau N Te Mweenga) was passed in Parliament and the penal code has been amended therefore domestic violence is now charged as a crime. This is a major step forward in curtailing the problem and improving society.

As in many societies, domestic and sexual violence is difficult to enforce. Another challenge is that most women withdraw their complaints within a few days. The main reason for doing so and deciding to remain with abusive partners is women's fear of losing financial support needed for themselves and their children. It is difficult for them to leave abusive husbands due to limited economic opportunities.

Many abused women have no independent financial means and often nowhere to go if they leave their partners.

Kiribati children whose mothers suffer domestic violence were more likely to repeat a year of school or drop out altogether.