"As societies build walls of separation between communities,
ICAAD works to remove each brick to illuminate our common humanity"

UPR: Solomon Islands, 24th Session, 2015

United Nations Human Rights Council

Universal Periodic Review: Solomon Islands

Executive Summary 

Drawing on ICAAD’s research, this submission highlights issues of structural discrimination that impact women and minorities in the Solomon Islands. The research examines the Solomon Island’s compliance with its international human rights obligations on the issues of: violence against women and girls (VAWG), gender equality and discrimination against persons with disabilities.

  • Violence Against Women
  1. Systematic Discrimination:

(1) Violence against women and girls is endemic in the Solomon Islands. Domestic violence is largely underreported.[i] Women fail to report due to fear of reprisals, feelings of shame, and cultural taboos.[ii] A 2012 report by the Special Rapporteur on VAWG indicated that approximately 64% of women who had been in a relationship experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner.[iii] 37% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 reported being the victims of sexual abuse under the age of 15.[iv] Spousal rape is not criminalized.[v]

(2) In terms of the broader social context, women continue to live with the effects of a period of internal unrest between 1998 and 2003 known as “the tensions.”[vi] Rape was frequently used by militants and policemen to extract information from women and girls about the whereabouts of family or community members.[vii] It is reported that up to 75 percent of women suffered personal trauma, including rape.[viii]

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This Civil Rights and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’d like to challenge you to reflect on how fear may have influenced your opinions, especially of others, and to take a step towards the courage to overcome those fears. Why the focus on fear you might ask?

Famed marketer and author Simon Sinek in his book “Start with Why” outlines six typical manipulations used in sales and marketing, one of which is the use of fear. On fear, Sinek says, “When fear is being employed, facts are incidental. Deeply seated in our biological drive to survive, that emotion cannot be quickly wiped away with facts and figures.”

In the current political atmosphere, in the U.S. and around the globe, fear is often used by politicians and campaigners to polarize debates and to demonize marginalized communities, using them as scapegoats for the real economic, social, and political challenges that societies face.

Martin Luther King, Jr. understood how important fear is, so much so that he gave a sermon on it named “Antidotes for Fear.” It’s worth reading in its entirety, especially because it recognizes the importance, necessity, and creativity of fear (kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/draft-chapter-xiv-mastery-fear-or-antidotes-fear). However, particularly pertinent section was highlighted by King’s wife Coretta Scott King in her book “My life with Martin Luther King, Jr”:

“First Martin spoke of the many kinds of fear that troubled men and women in this period of change and "calamitous uncertainty"— fear of illness or economic disaster, fear of personal inadequacy in our highly competitive society. More terrible was the fear of death, even racial annihilation, in this atomic age, when the whole world teetered on "a balance of terror . . . fearful lest some diplomatic faux pas ignite a frightful holocaust."

"Some fears are normal and necessary," he said, like the fear of snakes in a jungle, but when they become neurotic and unchecked, they paralyze the will and reduce a man to apathy or despair. He quoted Emerson, who wrote, "He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear."

How, then, to overcome fear? First, Martin said, "We must un-flinchingly face our fears . . . this confrontation will, to some measure, grant us power. . . . "Second, we can master fear through one of the supreme virtues known to man— courage . . . courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.”"

MLK Coretta Scott King Simon Sinek
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