Action on domestic violence

At the signing ceremony, RMI Attorney General Richard Hickson is flanked by WUTMI President Ramona Levy-Strauss (to his right), WUTMI Director Daisy Alik-Momotaro (to his left), and members of WUTMI. Photo: Eve Burns.

EVE BURNS

Women United Together in the Marshall Islands (WUTMI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the RMI Attorney General (AG) last week to confirm cooperation to protect victims of domestic violence.

The new agreement represents a joint working arrangement with the AG’s office and WUTMI’s Weto in Mour program for providing services to victims of violence against women and girls in the Marshall Islands. AG Richard Hickson and WUTMI President Ramona Levy-Strauss signed the agreement. Witnesses at the signing were Daniya Note and Daisy Momotaro, WUTMI’s director.

“It (the agreement) is confirmation of our on going cooperation to protect victims and children from violence and human trafficking,” said Hickson. “The agreement (confirms) an already existing arrangement for both victim service provision and raising the profile of the issue.”

Key points of the agreement include that the AG will assist by providing efficient and effective prosecution in relation to domestic violence, use evidence-based prosecution that does not solely rely on survivor testimony, and ensure the prosecution is centered on the safety of the survivor and her children while keeping the survivor witness informed of the progress of the prosecution.

Weto in Mour’s side of the agreement includes not interfering in the legal aspects of any prosecution bought by the AG and responding efficiently and effectively to referrals received from the AG’s office based on the resources available.
The primary goal of WUTMI is to support and strengthen Marshallese women and families.
WUTMI seeks to promote and provide activities that preserve and strengthen the values of traditional Marshallese culture at the same time not compromising the rights of women and children.

Research has indicated that 69 percent of women living in the Marshall Islands report having experienced some form of gender-based violence. Nine out of 10 Marshallese women victims of domestic violence never seek help, and most never report incidences of violence to the police.

Among those who did report their experience of partner violence to authorities, 66 percent were dissatisfied with the response they received, according to surveys conducted.

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