Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI) officially launched its new support service for women in Ebeye earlier this week. The support service is called Weto In Mour (A Place of Life): Violence Against Women and Girls Support Service. It is based in Majuro and now also operates in Ebeye.
“The women and children survivors of domestic and family violence in remote and island locations need support, and so it is critical that we expand our original Weto in Mour service in Majuro out to islands such as Ebeye,” said WUTMI Executive Director Daisy Alik-Momotaro.
“We’ve received incredible support from iroojlaplap Mike Kabua, the Kwajalein Atoll Local Government, Lerooj Anta James John and the Rukjenleen Club advisors to help us develop this center and make this launch day possible.”
The Weto In Mour center in Ebeye will provide support to survivors of violence along with education and awareness to help prevent gender-based violence.
Funding for the Ebeye center is from the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, via UN Women, complementing support from Australia through Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) that funded the Majuro Weto In Mour — the first ever service for domestic violence survivors in RMI. Pacific Women also provide technical support for all WIM staff.
“Today sets a milestone in the RMI in our fight against sexual violence and harassment against our young adolescents and women of all ages,” Alik-Momotaro said. “Surveys have shown that an alarming one in three Marshallese women have experienced some form of abuse in their lifetime. RMI’s rates of violence against women and children are staggering and unacceptable for a nation whose culture is built on peace, care and love for family and clan; a traditional structure that has existed for centuries.”
WUTMI established RMI’s first counseling service for victims of violence called Weto in Mour in 2016, with the support of Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women). Weto in Mour continues to increase awareness about violence against women and to improve the referral network and services provided for its survivors.
“WUTMI is committed to ensure that perpetrators, child molesters, pedophiles and human traffickers are punished to the highest extent of the law,” Ms Alik-Momotaro said. “Safe havens must be established in our hospitals, police stations, courthouse to protect survivors once a case is reported.”
In a separate development, Majuro first responders will receive training next week for implementing the new Ministry of Health and Human Services “standard operating procedure” (SOP) for gender-based violence health response.
Human Services Clinical Director Dr. Holden Nena will be working with the World Health Organization and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to train Health workers, the Domestic Violence Unit of the national police, WUTMI, IOM and it’s hoped, Majuro police.
“We are stepping up our responsibility to identify, recognize, and care for all those survivors of gender-based violence and at the same time assist the legal system to get perpetrators of gender-based violence their fair treatment for their acts,” said Nena.
“The public health aspect of it makes it necessary to have a SOP in place on how the front liners of health, police, and NGOs should approach the survivors, providing support and safety, and a referral pathway that is used by all front liners, and are the best for survivors of such experience.”
The three-day program aims “to pave the way for all front line departments, agencies, and organizations to unite as a response team,” Nena said.
The training will be held February 24-25 and March 3 at the Marshall Islands Resort’s Melele Room.