Sexual and gender-based violence in the Pacific

7 April 2015, 11:45 UTC | Asia and The Pacific
© Michal Gonnen / Flickr

The Pacific Islands region is one of the worst places to be a woman. Almost 70% of women and girls experience rape or other sexual violence in their lifetime, one of the highest rates in the world. This is often at the hands of a partner or family member.

A culture of shame and victim-blaming prevails, so many crimes are not reported, and the ones that are often go unpunished. Few Pacific Island nations have specific laws that make violence against women and girls a crime. Any existing laws are also poorly upheld. 

It is common that the different forms of sexual and gender-based violence are not recognised as crimes. These include marital and statutory rape as well as domestic violence. Women are often married off without their consent, and we have reports of women forced to marry their rapists in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Amnesty International is working to empower women and girls through:

  • creation of legislation that specifically addresses sexual and gender based violence
  • enforcement of legislation in this area to ensure positive policy initiatives are undertaken, and
  • repeal of laws that discriminate against women.


International Region: