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4.5% of Palauan ever-pregnant women experienced physical partner violence. 37% were punched in the abdomen: MOH led 2014 study

The number of domestic violence cases in a month went up to 8 in the month of March, said the Bureau of Public Safety (BPS) report. The highest monthly number was 9 which was in September of 2017.

The year 2018 ended with 54 cases of domestic violence reported at BPS followed by 4 in the month of January this year and 3 in the month of February.

However, there figures do not represent the domestic violence cases over all as there are cases that go directly to the court as well.

The 2014 Belau Family Health and Safety Study: National Research Project on Violence Against Women in Palau led by the Ministry of Health(MOH) did a study with a sample of 931 women of whom 886 were ever-partnered respondents.

The term ‘ever-partnered’ refers to a relationship regardless of being married.

According to study, 25.2% of the women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner in their lifetime.

The study further adds that 23% of ever-partnered women in Palau experienced physical partner violence in their lifetime. The most common act of physical partner violence was being slapped or having something thrown at.

Not just that but 4.5% of ever-pregnant women experienced physical partner violence in at least one pregnancy and over one-third of these women which makes up to 37% were punched in the abdomen.

The study also reveals that over one-third of ever-abused women which is about 37% had never told anyone about the violence they faced and those who did disclose the violence mostly confided in family members or friends.

According to this MOH led study, majority of the ever –abused women (65.8%) never sought any help from the authorities or formal services.

Officer Rebecca at the BPS who works as a liaison for the domestic violence cases said that most cases of physical abuse happen under the influence of alcohol. She also added that the reasons she found to be common were problems in the family, finances and jealousy.

The BPS officer also said that a lot of the women she found to be victims of domestic violence are housewives while few are working women.

Explaining the procedure after the initial report she added that the suspect may immediately be arrested if there is a sign of physical abuse on the victim. She further said that the arrest also happens if the abuse has happened in a close proximity to the minor.

According to Rebecca, the police can also put a 24 hours restraining order on the suspect and if violated the order, the police has the power to arrest.

Speaking from her experience, she said that alcohol is not the cause but the deep anger in the abuser can be a cause for the abuse.

The Wealth Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet about violence against women, particularly an intimate partner, states that it is a violation of the women’s human rights.

The fact sheet also adds that men with low education, a history of child maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence against their mothers, harmful use of alcohol, unequal gender norms including attitudes accepting of violence, and a sense of entitlement over women are more likely to be involved in perpetrators of violence against women. (By Eshan Kalyanikar)