What family-tree mapping can tell us about how to approach gender-based violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a product and manifestation of gender relations that inflicts harm disproportionately on women and girls. In the Pacific island country of Niue, there is a lack of research and attention on the issue which has given rise to this research aimed at considering the challenges and opportunities in addressing GBV.

Not having spaces to talk about GBV is one way in which it can persist. By making space to discuss GBV at the community level, there is room to craft solutions. The aim of this research is to examine ways of creating spaces for safe discussion which allow for Niue women’s narratives in order to eliminate violence in social relations in Niue and promote healthy relationships.

This research took place in October and November 2019 and involved 27 informant interviews with 32 total key informants and 14 family-tree mapping interviews. Guided by a genealogical approach, I explored spaces in which GBV is raised and piloted a family-tree mapping approach for an in-depth exploration of family spaces. The careful work of Pacific scholars and artists around relationship and empathy provided valuable guidance in how I positioned myself as a non-Pacific researcher.

The findings suggest that the transgression of gender roles in Niue contributes to GBV incidents in interpersonal relationships. While there are challenges to addressing GBV in Niue, this analysis of spaces with an emphasis on family spaces also presents several opportunities for transformation. Additionally, the framework presents a new way of engaging with the issue of GBV in terms of research and intervention through family-tree mapping.

Read the report in Vagahau Niue here and in English below.

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This research was conducted as a part of a Master’s thesis by Erin Thomas at the University of Auckland with funding from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Postgraduate Field Awards. This report was written by Erin Thomas and translated by Maryanne Talagi with funding support from the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and UN Women Pacific under the Spotlight Initiative Pacific which is funded by the European Union.



You can find the work published in the Pacific Health Dialog. The thesis is available online here.