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Peaceful protest met with outrage

THE Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW) peaceful protest this week has sparked public outrage after claims that some banners displayed at the march contained abusive words.

Demonstrators took to the streets across Port Vila to protest against the ongoing abuse in their homes and even in their streets by males, voicing strong sentiments that all humans should be treated equally.

The protest took place at night to mark the message to ‘reclaim the night’ when the women were mostly abused at home and down the streets in the capital and elsewhere.

The protests were for the most part peaceful and orderly, although there were scattered banners using ‘abusive’ language.

Protesters later loaded comments on social media claiming the banners used the swear words used, which are becoming common in society, for impact in their messages.

But a chief’s representative, Joel Meakes, said that it was an insult to our society and males especially, because they are the ones blamed for sexual harassment.

Mr Meake said that the ‘peaceful’ protest was a mockery to the three principles that Vanuatu independence was based on: Melanesian and traditional values, Christian principals and faith in God.

He said that women are blaming their husbands and demanding they stop the patriarchy system inside the family and it is time that females should be considered as leaders in the family, but he highly condemned their banners claiming they were ‘rubbish’ and ‘a shame to the VNCW’.

Women are claiming that patriarchy is taking place across in almost every sphere of life but it is particularly noticeable in women’s under-representation in key state institutions, in decision-making positions and in employment and industry.

They said that male violence against women is also a key feature of patriarchy and women in minority groups face multiple oppressions in this society - race, class and sexual harassment.

Police distanced themselves from the dispute saying that the women have sought the protest through a formal application that was granted, but anything related to the protest, they were not aware of.

VNCW President Leaias Cullwick could not be reached for comment.

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