Australia helping to stop violence against women in the Asia Pacific region

Media release

8 March 2013

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced up to $24 million over five years to put an end to violence against women in Cambodia.

Senator Carr said one-in-three women worldwide is beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

"Women who have experienced violence in Cambodia often lack access to critical services including counselling and legal support and many do not have access to safe shelter," Senator Carr said.

"This funding for the Ending Violence Against Women program will deliver emergency medical treatment, counselling, safe places to stay, and legal services."

In Cambodia, violence against women is often accepted as normal behaviour.

Due to financial and attitudinal barriers in the law and justice sector, few women seek legal help after experiencing violence.

When women seek assistance through the health system there are limited response services and no protocol for violence against women identification and response, such as HIV testing.

Australia will work with the Cambodian Government, UN Women and civil society organisations to change attitudes and prevent violence so that women can feel safer in their communities.

Senator Carr said violence against women is unacceptable which is why Australia's aid program is also starting new programs to promote gender equality and tackle violence against women in Afghanistan, Indonesia and the Pacific.

"Our regional neighbours continue to have some of the highest levels of violence in the world," Senator Carr said.

"In some Pacific countries more than 60 per cent of women and girls have experienced violence at the hands of their partners at some time in their lives."

Over the next 10 years, the $320 million Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development initiative, announced by Prime Minister Gillard at the Pacific Islands Forum last year, will include support for more than 150,000 women who have experienced violence.

This will provide access to services such as counselling, medical assistance and safe shelters for women who experience violence. It will also support male advocates and Pacific leadership networks to drive social change.

Australia has been helping Pacific island countries respond to violence against women and provide services for survivors for many years.

The Vanuatu Family Protection Act came into effect in 2009 after 11 years of advocacy by women's rights activists supported by Australia.

Australia has supported the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre since 1989. In 2012, the Centre provided counselling to more than 4,400 women survivors of violence.

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