[TimorLesteStudies] Dr Phyllis Ferguson: Domestic Violence and Gender Based Violence in Timor-Leste

Bu Wilson Bu.Wilson at anu.edu.au
Tue Nov 17 08:55:53 EST 2009

Phyllis Ferguson

This review is in response to a goal to prevent and reduce real and
perceived violence in East Timor through the assessment of risk factors,
including the socio-economic costs of violence relating to women, children
and IDPs. It is in this specific context that Domestic Violence (hereafter
DV) and Sex and Gender-Based Violence (hereafter SGBV) will be examined. The
case numbers continue to increase. Here the effort is made to understand
why, what remedies there are presently in place, how they can be improved
and streamlined to mitigate the risks and socio-economic costs. Are the
caseload increases reflective of the heightened lack of physical and
economic security since independence? What contributory role do
prostitution, drugs and human trafficking make, if any?

Sexual assault, rape and much DV is not about sex, but about power and
control, by superior force, sometimes involving arms, but always perpetrated
to provoke feelings of insecurity, in the domestic realm, or in public,
usually against the perceived less strong – by size, by age and often by
gender. The context of DV and SGBV in Timor-Leste is examined in cultural
perspective, viewing the present situation in the historical context of
prior political subjugations. The crisis of 2006, the displacement and
creation of the IDP camps, problems arising and their impact on the return
process is analyzed to provide insights to explain the continuing rise in DV
and SGBV. Recent statistics from 2008-9 provide insights into the variety
and numbers of cases.

The Timor-Leste constitutional guarantees and international conventions
relating to gender, DV and SGBV and the formal and traditional Adat justice
systems, including the impact of polygamy are reviewed. The contexts of the
pending DV legislation as well as parliamentary, judicial and police efforts
to reduce DV and SGBV since independence are analysed. 

This review then details the work of both policymaking and stakeholder
service provision to protect survivors through forensic, medical and
psychosocial support, legal advice and trauma healing. The advocacy and
service organizations and NGOs providing support include civil society
networks and an increasing number of safe houses for women and children. 

Alcohol abuse and street drug use, both of which play a role in DV and SGBV
are considered. The associated and increasing phenomena of prostitution and
trafficking, with the attendant geometric rise in cases of STDs and HIV/AIDS
is reviewed. It is hoped that this gendered study will provide insights for
social and economic policy planning and action initiatives to provide
genuine opportunities for improved gender rights and gender equality in
Timor-Leste and a means to decrease the number of cases of DV and SGBV.

Overview: DV and SGBV – Understanding violence in Timor-Leste
Gender violence is a domestic and community reality in Timor-Leste. It
existed in Portuguese colonial times. Instilling it was part of the
patriarchal control of the many by the few. Physical violence as punishment
was directed at men and boys; the expectation of a ‘soft pillow’ on district
travel by colonial administrators, foreign merchants and traders affected
women and girls.  The invading Japanese forces in 1942 imposed forced
labour, torture, execution, rape and sexual slavery on the Timorese.  During
their brief occupation ending in 1945, more than 40,000, possibly as many as
60,000, died. Portugal returned but with the carnation revolution of 1974,
they precipitously withdrew from East Timor after over 450 years of colonial
hegemony. This was followed a year and a half later by the invasion and
24-year occupation by Indonesia, which left 180,000 dead and 40% of women as
survivors of rape or sexual assault.  The final destructive violence in 1999
by the Indonesian TNI and their 22 militias – some formed since the fall of
Suharto in May 1998 – is well documented. Much of it deliberately targeted
women, both before and following the announcement of the results of the
popular consultation on 30 August 1999 . Post-conflict insecurity since 1999
has been continuous; it has impacted particularly on women and girls.

There has been further violence since independence in Dili in 2002, 2005,
and intensively in 2006, 2007 and 2008. New engines for domestic violence
and SGBV have replaced the previous subjugations of colonialism and military
occupations. The rural to urban drift, especially of male youth further
separated men and women in their traditional roles and expectations.  Urban
crowding, property and land ownership disputes, and a resurgent affiliation
of predominantly male youth membership in gangs and martial arts groups also
contributed to a rise in tensions. These phenomena were the more difficult
to accept, as people had suffered, waited and had high hopes and
expectations with independence. The high levels of male youth unemployment ,
mounting urban poverty in Dili, the misuse of alcohol and street drugs and
social jealousy all accompanied the rise of both DV and SGBV as will be
further explained below. 

The mounting challenges were joined by a security crisis within the army and
between the army and the police, leading to anarchy and the collapse of the
rule of law and justice in early 2006. The first government fell in June
2006 and International Security Forces intervened at the request of the
second government – another ‘occupation’, to restore law and order. The
capacity to build unity following Independence was severely compromised. The
weak justice system and resulting impunity continue to need remedy.

High levels of insecurity impacted both communities and homes, particularly
in the capital, Dili. Public infrastructure was targeted in a copycat repeat
of 1999. Public buildings and houses were burned and ransacked and upwards
of 140,000 people were displaced into over 65 IDP Camps. The last of these,
including ‘transitional shelters’, are to close in November 2009, 14 times
longer than the UN and Government’s optimistic projected duration of “just
three months” in July 2006. The rise in the number of DV and SGBV cases in
the IDP context are examined below. The causes are intrinsically related to
changing social relations, family breakdown, a destruction of trust and
economic hardship. 

IDP Camp Closure, Gender Inequality, DV and SGBV
The goal of humanitarian assistance in Timor-Leste during the crises of
2006, 2007 and 2008 became increasingly focussed on IDP camp closure, with
the assisted return of IDPs to their communities or to alternative living
situations. It required practical problem solving by the government, the
Ministries, and by those international agencies, INGOs and NGOs who
initially provided shelter, water and sanitation, food and non-food items,
health care and protection to IDPs.  

Continuous negotiation over three and a half years and mediation by
successive governments finally included scaled payments ranging from $50 to
$4,500 to repair and rebuild damaged dwellings or to resettle. Those IDPs in
the last of the transitional shelters, now numbering less than 300 families
from a figure of over 140,000 people initially displaced, are being assisted
to resettle.  A recent World Bank Study on Dili reports constant levels of
violence, especially among Martial Arts groups, with women specifically
reporting harassment in one suco. In another suco, up to 40% of returning
IDPs report that they are experiencing ‘conflict’. Camp closure is not a
panacea. Funding by donors now is dwindling, though badly needed.

IDPs suffered and tolerated the loss of property and housing, separation,
the threat of violence, insecurity and ill health. They were forced to
accept the curtailment of education and economic opportunity while
displaced. Both Dili and some district residents have experienced these
impacts. Gender issues relating to the crisis became a major focus of the
Sex and Gender Based Violence Referral Pathways Working Group (SGBV-RP WG).
A large number of member partners of this working group worked tirelessly to
support women and children and to cross-refer the increasing caseload for
forensic, medical and legal assistance, psychosocial counselling and trauma

This work still goes together with and compliments case processing and
investigation by the National and District Vulnerable Persons’ Units (VPU),
by the police (PNT-L) and by the Department of Social Services Children’s
and Women’s Protection Units of the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MSS).
Cases are referred by these organizations to the Prosecutor General.
Although concerted effort has been made consistently to follow and to track
cases, this is one of the deficiencies of staff turnover, a lack of
institutional memory and coordination.  Camp closure has brought a number of
generic and unresolved gender issues relating to DV and SGBV into sharp
perspective. These issues are particularly prevalent in Dili, but also have
involved family members in the districts. The range and diversity of them
are highlighted in the box below.

IDP Camp Closure, Gender Inequality, DV and SGBV

(1) Unresolved issues relating to “unwanted” pregnancies
Cases of forced sex, sexual assault and rape were reported in the early
months of IDP life, as were instances of “unwanted” pregnancies from these
incidents. Some of these were gender-based reactions to the male frustration
over loss, dislocation and uncertainty, often exacerbated by increased
alcohol abuse and drunkenness. These were characteristically domestic
violence (DV) cases, sometimes including incest. IDP women’s concerns over
contributory physical factors such as the regular lack of electricity at
night and of camp insecurity combined with a lack of security generally were
taken up. Attempts were made to rectify these problems, although little
could be done to redress the lack of privacy in two family tents. Women
reported DV, which they attributed to drunkenness due to their withholding
marital relations. Women’s Committees formed in some of the camps supported
by Rede Feto; they did much to change reactive to pro-active policies and
planning. Subsequent media campaigns using posters, theatre performances and
targeted radio programmes in the IDP Camps on DV, SGBV and trafficking
played an important role in reducing violent incidents. Local NGOs,
International NGOs civil society organizations and UNDP all promoted these

However other types of “unwanted” pregnancies came forward in the IDP Camps
from 2006. The context was an attempt to seek advice and assistance by young
women who had ‘boyfriend-girlfriend’ relationships in the unusual and
exceptional circumstances of camp life. De facto family breakdown often
occurred as a result of camp life, with mothers and their very young
children in one camp and late primary, pre-secondary or secondary children
in another, close to their schools.  Often the father was in yet another
camp or in the districts or peripatetic between the family’s former partly
damaged or destroyed house and the other members of his family in their
respective IDP locales; polygamy was reported rising and was also an issue
in DV cases. 

This separation of family members combined with the closure of many schools
in Dili for long periods of time in 2006 and 2007. The result was a
breakdown of settled domestic life and a rupture in the established routines
and patterns of school and work, characterized by fixed activities on a
daily basis for both youth and adults. Even when schools re-opened, often
the economic burden of parental unemployment and constrained domestic
finance foreclosed educational opportunities for many IDP youth, male and
female alike. There was no possibility of resuming schooling: it was too

New friendships naturally formed in the IDP camps as old neighbourhood
attachments were interrupted. The freedoms and circumstances of ‘boyfriends
and girlfriends’ that arose in the IDP Camps were previously unknown because
of the traditional pressures and reinforced values exerted by parents,
neighbours and community under “normal” times. Mothers could not be
everywhere all the time. With no prospect of an early resolution to the IDP
crisis, there was a lack of opportunity for consistent pastoral care to
supervise and protect their daughters. This presented a particular challenge
to the mothers and fathers of adolescent and young adult daughters.
Pregnancies occurred. These children began to be born in the period before
the cycle of elections started in 2007.  Additional pregnancies have
occurred, with some young women now coming forward with one child and a
second unwanted pregnancy as they leave the IDP camps.

This has several social outcomes for all concerned. In many cases, the
boyfriend and his family state he is too young to marry: he is only a
student; he cannot assume responsibility for the young woman and her
child/children. Some deny paternity. The young woman and her family have
stark choices. Judicial System Monitoring Programme, JSMP, can provide legal
advice and support to take the issue to court, but the judicial process is
slow, due to the backlog of cases and the potential outcome is uncertain, so
this prospect is daunting. Often, it is also logistically and financially
impossible. The family of the young women has a loss, in the sense that the
prospect of barlake, bride-price dowry, traditionally paid to the bride’s
family, has now been foreclosed unless the young man and his family through
adat mediation agree to make payment. 

Additionally – partly due to the crisis – often these young women have not
completed their education and have no skills. Their prospects for further
education and training are complicated by the responsibility they have for
their infants. They return to their birth families with their dependent
children and thus constitute an additional burden to their families in the
context of ever-scarcer resources with IDP camp closure: now their
situations are more insecure. Where are they to go and what can they do to
support themselves? Some have turned to sex-working.

(2) Gender and debt: the exacerbation of Domestic Violence
As the IDP camps closed, Kiosk owners called in debts for payment. Many
women IDPs asked for goods on credit: matches, packets of soap - the small
necessities of life. In some cases, over a period of more than three years,
the amount owed was more than $200.  Women had every reason to fear as the
kiosk owners reported the magnitude of these debts to unknowing husbands or
partners. What women assumed and hoped was that part of the return packet
provided by the government could be used for debt settlement with the kiosk

This situation on top of all the other uncertainties of IDP camp closure
heightened the frustration and lack of agency of IDP men once again. Some
men become drunk and there were reported instances of domestic violence
against women and their children that were alcohol related. The dependency
culture of IDP camp life was never mitigated by humanitarian assistance, but
rather a stark feature and outcome of it. The social problems this
dependency created include a destructive dynamic of gendered family
mistrust. This mistrust is unresolved. These resentments have accompanied
family members as they resettle. The context has change, but these problems
will likely fester as women have been deprived of access to return payments
by report, either to use for debt repayment or to assist themselves and
their children to resettle after leaving the IDP Camps. Some women with
children have been abandoned.

(3) Gender and Government payments to returning IDPs
The distribution of food and non-food items, the provision of electricity,
water, sanitation and tents in the humanitarian assistance to IDPs has
ended. The settlement offered by the government to returning IDPs upon
re-verification of the level of destruction of their former homes was paid
to the male heads of households. The incidents of polygamy have increased
with men’s access to cash.  It has led to poor family relations, loss of
trust, men refusing familial responsibility, and the abandonment of women
and children, causing broken families. Women often experience mental health
problems, psychological stress, loss of dignity and confidence, economic
insecurity and DV. There have been cases to date of men disappearing with
these funds, as in one instance where a man abandoned his wife, seven
children and two minor dependents. The numbers of these cases have risen as
there was nothing to constrain them. This has also created a burden on state

The sharp rise in the purchasing power of men is also reflected in the
recent acquisition of large numbers of cars used as taxis and motorbikes.
Tailbacks and traffic jams, morning, noon and night in Dili are the evidence
of this use of the resettlement funds by men. Cock fighting, gambling, the
consumption of alcohol and other gendered leisure pursuits have also
markedly increased, as has the incidence of DV. Quarrels over access to
money and its use continue to be reported by women in many DV cases. 

Under a new MSS scheme, promulgated for security reasons for the Eastern
Districts, the resettlement payments were paid into banks in Baucau and
Viqueque. There was no socialization of the policy indicating the
possibility of women being joint account holders, or sole account holders in
the cases of female-headed households. This presented a particularly
gendered disequilibrium for women as wives, women who are heads of
households and women as grandmothers who have responsibility for dependent
daughters with children or “unwanted” pregnancies. The need for gender
parity in these resettlement payments was discussed but did not become part
of the planning and policy decision-making. It is clear that resettlement
payments have been used to purchase taxis and motorcycles. As the funds are
not being used for shelter, homelessness will result, create more gender
tension and further hardship, particularly for women and children as the
seasonal rains of 2009 begin. 

(4) Schooling in Dili 
Other aspects of gender abuse, particularly domestic violence, have been
exacerbated by the 2006 crisis. Insecurity and inflation have served to
breakdown the regular visits between parents living in the more inaccessible
rural areas or in Oecusse and the male and female children they sent to Dili
for schooling. This has particularly impacted on minor female children. A
recent case illustrates this issue. 
In 2004 a girl of eight was sent by her parents to begin primary school in
Dili. Before the crisis, the girl and her brother, a secondary school
student, also sent to Dili, had some contact with their parents. The girl
lived on her own with two women, one a distant relative. She had no contact
with her parents between 2006 and 2008, because of the crisis and financial
constraints. During the crisis, as the girl was older, more and more demands
were made for her to shop, to clean, to do the laundry and to cook food.
When she protested that she wanted to go to school, she was told to do the
work. She resisted increasingly and was regularly beaten. She was taken into
care after her rural parents were made aware of the seriousness of the
situation and with their consent. Increased vigilance is needed regarding
forced domestic servitude and child labour abuses, domestic violence
assaults on children and potentially more serious sexual violence or
trafficking risks with rural children being schooled in Dili.

Human Rights, Gender Rights and Violence
Impunity for serious crimes of violence against the person and against
property has increased in the last decade.  This continuing experience of
violence, through serial generations, inures young and old to it, by its
very transmission. The weakness and newness of the state and its attendant
political uncertainties have translated to the experience of violence of the
new citizens of sovereign Timor-Leste who wait to see what will happen next.
An overwhelming need for truth and justice over events of the past
continues; this particularly conditions the presently expressed frustrations
of sufferers of DV and SGBV, or those who attempt to assist them. 

Controlling women and children through violence and the threat of violence
has become a culturally accepted assertion of power by Timorese men. In part
it is colonially inherited patriarchy well learned and reinforced by the
memory of Indonesian violence. Freedom did not mitigate the perpetration or
the acceptance of violence. It helped provide the stage for it reassertion,
in part as a reclaiming of suppressed ‘traditional culture’. 

Gender power inequalities are perpetuated at home, at school, at work and at
church: ‘traditionally’ men earn, women serve. Its revival is socially
reinforced by barlake payments at marriage whereby gender inequality is
exacerbated by the unequal payments  linking families, not just at the
marriage, but in all the subsequent life ritual obligations between the two
families: as men give more, women are subsumed as ‘property’. Funerals and
other life stages ceremonies have the potential to become an arena of
conflict and friction, contributing to gender-based and community violence.
When combined with a man’s inability to meet payments, these inequalities
may lead to abuse, exploitation and loss of face. This, in turn, often
results in the victimization and maltreatment of women. Ultimately this
practice and the tensions it creates is a causal factor in many DV cases.
With the new millennium, particularly following independence in 2002 and now
in 2009, civil society NGOs, UNIFEM, SEPI and the gender-focal points in
each Ministry and in each of the 13 Districts of Timor-Leste struggle
against this patriarchy to promote gender equality, as guaranteed by the
Constitution and by the government’s ratification of the major international
human rights treaties in 2002 and the CEDAW convention in 2003. RDTL
Constitution Article 17 provides “equality of rights and responsibilities
between men and women,” and as a signatory to CEDAW, the GoTL is obligated
to promote women’s rights and equal access to health, education, employment,
land, political participation and decision-making opportunities. However,
domestic laws are still discriminatory against women and children, and
information on laws and women’s rights is not known, especially in rural
Without this knowledge, women are unaware; when they encounter a problem,
like DV or SGBV, they do not know who to approach or how and on what basis
to make claims to the state to fulfil these rights. The Beijing Platform for
Action and UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 (on women, peace and
security) and 1820 (on sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict
situations) are important comprehensive statutes, which need urgent
dissemination in the rural areas, as they are not yet known or understood.
On September 30, 2009, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted
resolution 1888 that addresses the ongoing need to end sexual violence
against women in conflict-affected countries. The resolution builds on and
strengthens Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820, which clearly link
the prevention of sexual violence with the maintenance of peace and
However, the passage of a law like 1888 is not an endpoint or a cause for
celebration.  The predominant perspective is that the power to implement the
law lies with government ‘bureaucrats’. The truth is that if there is no
advocacy at the community level, the law will probably not be implemented.
Evidence-based advocacy makes a link between gathering evidence and
supporting an advocacy position. A model of evidence-based advocacy  builds
on the idea of respect for the enormous expertise and knowledge within civil
society, particularly with community-based women rights groups. 
•	Build flexible, resilient partnerships and coalitions with women’s
groups – involve them in designing research so that the relevant questions
can be asked

•	Continue to link advocacy to law-making, so that the evidence can
support the advocacy
•	Set up long-term and short-term benchmarks that are achievable,
which give a sense of accomplishment
•	Plan for the long-term – five to 10 years: it is only possible to
measure systemic change this way.

The recent CEDAW review highlighted problems relating to DV and SGBV in the
Timor-Leste Country Report and in their questions on it. Government and
Shadow responses were submitted. The delays in promulgating the civil code
and the domestic violence legislation within it are daunting. It is in its
seventh year in draft. The Penal Code stipulates that domestic violence is a
public crime. It will also be important to socialize the Domestic Violence,
DV Legislation at the suco and aldeia levels when passed, not simply to
educate police, prosecutors, public defenders and judges as SEPI plans.
Knowledge of and access to district based service provision for survivors
are mainly limited to the district headquarter towns, inadequate for the
numbers of cases presenting. VPU reports in 2009 more than 3 DV cases per
day in Dili [1,095 per year], and they calculate that for every case
reported, at least 10 go unreported. Recent statistics on DV cases for
January to July 2009 (7 months) report 188 cases.  Below are the incidents
of DV and SGBV against children under 18 from 9 districts reported to
National VPU from September 2008 to April 2009. Information is missing from
three districts; again many cases are known to be unreported.

DV and SGBV Cases (under 18 years)
Age	Female/Male	Offence	Suspect Age	Relationship to victim
16	Female	Incest	47	Father
7	Female	DV	25	Mother
14	Female	DV	40	Father
15	Female	Indecent assault	18	Not Known
9	Male	DV	N/K	Father
14	Female	Attempted rape	26	Taxi driver
17	Female	Rape	N/K	Multiple offenders, no relationship
15	Female	Rape	N/K	No relationship
5	Female	Attempted rape	15	No relationship
17	Female	Sexual assault	24	No relationship
3	Female	Rape	20	Family friend
7	Female	Rape	20	Family friend
16	Female	Underage sex	21	Boyfriend
6 months	Female	Indecent assault	N/K	Not Known
8	Female	Indecent assault	53	Uncle
17	Female	Indecent assault	40	Brother in law
Not Known	Female	Incest	40	Father
14	Female	DV	45	Father
13	Male	Assault	N/K	Not Known
16	Female	Indecent assault	19	Not Known
14	Female	Underage sex	20	Friend
13	Female	Rape	40	Friend
11	Female	Assault	N/K	Not Known
9, 5	Male	Assault	N/K	Father
17	Female	Pregnant/abandoned	36	Boyfriend
10	Male	Assault	N/K	School teacher
2	Female	Assault	17	No relationship
12	Male	Assault	36	Auntie (guardian)
13	Female	Rape	N/K	No relationship
9	Male	Assault	44	Uncle
16	Female	Assault	23	Female no relationship
12	Male	Assault	12, 53, 35	Family
16	Female	Rape	21	Friend
14	Female	Indecent assault	45	Not Known
15	Female	Rape	18	No relationship
15	Female	Pregnant/Abandoned	26	Boyfriend
16	Female	Incest	47	Father
14	Female	Attempted rape	31	No relationship
12	Female	Rape	N/K	Living in same accommodation
16	Female	Indecent assault	50	No relationship
14	Female	Assault	40	Neighbour
14	Male	Assault	N/K	Mother
15	Female	Incest	64	Father
16	Female	Rape	42	School principal
13	Male	Assault	N/K	School teacher
17	Female	Indecent assault	23	No relationship
12	Male	Assault	38	Father
6	Male	Assault	33	Father
12	Female	Gang raped	13,14,15 &16	No relationship
15	Female	Rape	32	Cousin
3	Female	Indecent assault	15	Friend, male
17	Female	Pregnant/Abandoned	22	Friend, male
14 months	Female	Attempted murder	29	Mother
12	Male	Assault	14	Friend, male
9	Female	Attempted rape	19	No relationship
13	Male	Assault	N/K	Not Known
15	Female	Rape	N/K	Relative
14	Female	Rape	36	School teacher
13	Female	Attempted rape	15	No relationship
12	Male	Assault	N/K	Not Identified

In summary, of these 65 incidents all were under the age of 18; 47 were
female, 18 were male. The cases include 23 rape or attempted rape, 5 incest,
10 other sexual assault, 16 DV and 11 other assault cases.

The lack of justice for female and child survivors of DV and SGBV is an
unfortunate outcome of the formal justice system as well as the non-formal,
traditional adat system as will described below. Formal justice consists of
a police investigation of the reported crime, leading to court hearings,
indictment, conviction and the imprisonment of perpetrators. This is a time
consuming process fraught with delays, adjournments and inefficiencies.
Formal justice is particularly compromised due to case backlogs (more than
5,000 in Dili District Court alone), a lack of human resources (judges,
prosecutors, public defenders and lawyers) and the resulting inherent lack
of will and capacity. There are only four district courts for the thirteen
districts of Timor-Leste. Although all the new buildings for criminal and
civil prosecutions are now completed, one court, that in Oecusse, only
convenes irregularly when cases are brought; the judges, public defenders
and prosecutors only fly in when there are cases.  

There have been cases of an indigent wife who suffered DV begging for the
release of her convicted spouse, as she has no means to support herself and
their children. Women enjoy little security and for the most part do not yet
have heritable rights to land or to property, although the draft land law
seeks to redress the rights of women, as noted above. 

There is nothing for women to fall back on, not even on their birth family,
who, having received barlake payments often encourage their daughters to
remain in failed marriages with violent husbands. So even with legal
support, some women who suffer DV and SGBV withdraw their cases only to
become serially assaulted. Also, in Timor-Leste, in divorce, the children go
to the husband, not to the wife, part of the reason that women remain in
violent marriages. In the future, changes in custody rules and the further
economic empowerment of all women will be the most important antidotes.
Three cases below illustrate the realities of DV.


“My boyfriend followed me. His brother had invited us to go to a party. On
the way home my boyfriend attacked me and tried to choke me
He had relations
with me and raped me (‘estraga’). Then we brought him to the tribunal
because my brother-in-law and my sister said we should. They said that we
would not use traditional justice.

It was my brother-in-law who told the police [what happened] because I could
not talk. I fainted and I could not eat for 1½ days. They just used a spoon
to feed me. My brother brought me to hospital and someone else brought the
doctor to give me an injection. We went home some days later and the police
came and asked us where that man’s house was. When I got home, the ‘Dato’
[an elder of the traditional justice adat council] was upset with me. He
said ‘It is not right that this problem has not been resolved by us. It
should be resolved with us before the information is given to the police’.
[I did not go to the ‘Dato’] because I did not think about these things,
myself. I knew that all they wanted was only just to eat meat. (*)

We had to follow adat to solve the problem, if not, the ‘Dato’ would say
that we had not respected them because we did not choose them to solve the
case. Anyway, if we go directly to the police, they will only send it back
to ‘tesi tradisaun’ [traditional adat arbitration]. I would like to put him
in prison.  Coming from the ‘Dato’, the result will be to make the man pay a
‘casu sala’ [confession, admission of guilt, accompanied by a fine of money
and buffalos, see above, (*)].  My brother-in-law wanted him to go to court
and to jail. Only my brother-in-law gave me support.”   
For one and a half months, my husband was just gambling (playing pool). He
took the money that I had saved and used it for gambling.  I complained, but
he didn’t care.  He didn’t even care when the babies were crying.  So, I
threw a bucket of warm water on him that I had used to wash the babies.  In
response he punched me three times and kicked me twice, then stabbed me with
a pool cue, pulled my hair and threw me down forcefully onto the floor.

I was in pain so I took a knife and scared him so he ran out of the house.
If not, he would have killed me. I was wounded because he had hit me with
the pool cue. Then, I went to make a report to the police and the police
came to arrest him and to make an investigation.  

When I later returned to the police station, one police officer asked me,
‘Is that your husband you are bringing this food to? You’ve just given
birth, why didn’t you send someone else?’  The police did not allow him to
go home, but I said that since they had arrested him, his family had become
so mad with me.  And also, I have a little baby. Who will collect firewood
and get water while I look after my baby?

I asked them to release him because I had just given birth and I could not
use cold water. I also thought about the other babies. What would I do if
they were crying and asking for bread or other things in the early morning
which I wouldn’t be able to do as I must look after the new born? The police
released him at 9pm.  

I didn’t think about [going to the] court. I was just thinking about the
fact that he had hit me.  They could help, I just reported him so that the
police could give him advice or a warning not to do that again to me
He has
changed his behaviour since he has come back.  He has not been gambling
since.  He just goes to the garden and stays at home if he has nothing to
do. He said that he feels ashamed with the neighbours because I reported him
to the police.” She summarised her position, “I had a problem since my first
baby was born until now. He never listened to what I said. I wanted to scare
him and teach him a lesson as he always said I didn’t have the power to make
a report to the police
 I think the police system is better [than adat
justice], because the police can give him some moral motivation and an
ultimatum to not do this again.”  
In a short film by Ian White, a young East Timorese woman is interviewed in
hospital. As she begins to speak, you only see her face. As she describes
her case, the camera reveals her sitting on the hospital bed. She relates
that she had a good job. It involved her having to travel, so her employers
provided a motorcycle. Her brother was unemployed and became very jealous of
her success; he asked her for money. She told him to seek work. Then he
asked to use the motorcycle, but she refused, as it was her motorcycle for
work. He became angry and told her to get out of the house and not to think
she could continue live there any longer. She told him it was their home and
she had as much right to live there as he did. 

As she was sleeping one night, her brother returned to the house, entered
her room, poured petrol on her and lit a match, which he threw on her. She
was engulfed in flames. Her whole body, but for her face is bandaged. She
states that there are many forms of domestic violence. 

The first two cases above highlight the choices presented by accessing adat
or formal justice procedures and the conditions that sway women’s
decision-making. Recidivism by perpetrators in adat cases is very common.

Formal Justice
The language of the law and the courts is Portuguese, spoken by less than
10% of the population, making it difficult for legislators, for public
knowledge and for public comment on draft legislation by civil society. It
also presents special challenges in court for victims, witnesses – who enjoy
no guaranteed protection – and for the accused. Most do not speak or
understand Portuguese and therefore find the trial process incomprehensible
and intimidating. Meeting the costs of travel, accommodation and food
particularly challenges the will of defendants.  

There is free legal advice available through the Victim Support Service,
VSS, of the Judicial System Monitoring Programme, JSMP,  and until recently
through pro-bono work by legal advisors for Avocats sans Frontiers  and
still from local Legal NGOs such as CEM in Baucau District, and FFSO in
Oecusse District. 

Rural victims particularly suffer discrimination through their lack access
to information concerning their rights and the law and to their fear due to
a lack of knowledge of the formal justice system and its procedures. Lack of
transport and financial support for women victims also predicates against
committing to the lengthy process of a court trial with adjournments due to
the long backlog of cases. Police for these reasons often encourage
complainants to seek resolution through adat traditional justice. 
There is growing perception by women that there will be change, however, as
articulated in this statement, ‘There is also the opportunity to give
protection to women through politics.  Like a husband and wife, when the
husband goes outside the house and does bad things, there is no law to help
the wife.  But now there is a representative [SEPI] for them through the
inclusion of women in politics.”  Herein lies some hope.
Adat practices regarding DV and SGBV 
The Community Authority law, 5/2004, stipulates that the village and hamlet
chiefs (chefe de suco and the chefe de aldeia) are responsible for promoting
the creation of mechanisms for DV prevention and supporting initiatives
regarding the follow-up and protection of DV victims, and for the
condemnation and repression of DV perpetrators in accordance with the
gravity and circumstances of each case as well as their punishment and
rehabilitation. Most DV and SGBV cases go before the adat system of
traditional justice at the aldeia or suco levels. 

Traditional adat practice starts with family mediation, which if unresolved
moves to the hamlet (aldeia) chief and then to the village (suco) chief, in
council with male and female elders. If unresolved at this third level the
complaint is referred to the Sub-District and then to the District
Administrator; failing all these options, the complaint becomes a matter for
the police and formal justice procedures. 

The adat system seeks above all to mitigate public embarrassment, social
shame and stigma. But it often results in the perpetuation of cycles of
impunity and further violence with little relief or support for female or
child survivors as male-dominated decision-makers adjudicate fines to be
paid by the male perpetrator to male relatives of the female or child
victim, while blame is often cast on her or the child and most often medical
or psychosocial support is not provided. Particularly if the survivor is far
from one of the four regional hospitals, the person is physically and
psychologically unsupported. Increasingly if women are pregnant, they resort
to abortion. 

Although this adat system continues to be predominantly male dominated,
before the October 2009 second local elections there were eight women
village chiefs of 442; now there are 16. Since 2004/5 when through positive
discrimination women were first elected to local government, some women
village chiefs have deliberately sought paralegal training. Their view was
better to understand both formal and traditional adat justice. They learned
about the constitution, human rights, gender equality, the law, the systems
of justice and procedural rules and regulations. This knowledge has
empowered them to support women constituents who suffer gender-based
violence and to command respect within their communities in these adat
traditional justice leadership roles that have been, heretofore, the
exclusive right of men. 

>From 2004 to 2009, many of the 1,360 women local council members  were also
approached by women constituents for support and advice over problems
relating to DV and SGBV. To the extent that they have had transformational
gender-based trainings on their roles and duties and on human rights, gender
rights and justice, they are able to inform women of their rights in law.
The women councillors can also advise how to access advocacy workers from
NGOs, district-based gender focal points as well as other service providers,
local hospitals and clinics for survivors of DV and GBV. But as the VPU
Chief of Manatuto District PNTL emphasised, more socialization about human
rights and gender rights with local administrators, legal authorities and
traditional justice leaders at the community level is badly needed, to
decrease incidences of DV.  “In the past, men have always considered that
the rights of men and women are not the same. This is the time of
independence now. We need to educate people about human rights, and that
women’s rights are the same as men’s.”  For information on the major Service
Providers and Advocacy Groups in Timor- Leste see the two boxes below.

Non-Governmental Service Providers working to prevent DV and SGBV 

AMKV, Asosiasaun Mane Kontra Violencia, The Association of Men against
Violence, is a men’s group leading the promotion of gender equality and the
prevention of violence against women, with men, basing their work on
analysis of their own personal practice. This informs their social activism
to encourage men’s participation in the struggle on gender equality more
broadly. It was founded by 10 men in 2002 and now has over 200 male members
working on community advocacy campaigns to mainstream gender equality. AMKV
believes that transformation needs to begin at home, because that is where
the patriarchal system starts and where discrimination originates. It
maintains a high level of volunteer activism despite only sporadic,
project-specific funding from Oxfam, Caritas and UNFPA. It is an example of
‘south-to-south’ capacity building, formed after trainings in Dili in 2002
by the Nicaraguan men’s group, Puntos de Encuentro. It currently has 15
focal points in seven districts (six in Dili) and a fluctuating number of
other volunteers. It begins community engagement by helping groups of men
organize around their own priorities, involving income generation in
community gardens, carpentry work, or selling from kiosks. Discussion of
violence against women and gender equality arises naturally during these
activities. They also work to counsel males in prison convicted of DV and
SGBV, providing information and sustained support to prevent recidivism. 

Casa Vida provides safe house accommodation for females under 18 and
counseling for both boy and girl survivors of DV or SGBV. It was founded in
2008 in response to the need for child support services and takes referrals
from PRADET, MSS and the Prosecutor General. It has assisted 36 children and
youth and has recently opened a Café to provide training and income
generating activities.

Fokupers, (Forum Komunikasi Untuk Perempuan Timor-Leste, Communication Forum
for East Timorese Women), was established in 1997 to fight for human rights,
especially women’s rights and to empower and support women survivors of
gender-based violence. They provide a shelter and psychosocial support to
women and their children. They also offer capacity building training at
their shelter.

GBV/RP Network The Gender-Based Violence Referral Partners Network began in
1999, and included the NGOs FOKUPERS, PRADET and JSMP. In 2006 National VPU
including PNTL and UNPol, and MTRC/MSS representing government victim
support services and advocacy support from Oxfam, the Alola Foundation, Rede
Feto, AMKV (the association of men against violence), and ETCRN (East Timor
Crisis Reflection Network) and multilateral donors from UNFPA, UNIFEM,
UNICEF and IOM increasingly contributed. The network has two approaches for
improving collaboration and coordination of support services. A working
group now meets monthly to develop a shared policy planning for case
management, with standardized protocols and coordinated, comprehensive data
collection, training standards and materials. The long established Service
Providers of the referral pathways group meets weekly to share case
information; to support members in contacting cases in the districts; to
find transportation for witnesses or safe accommodation for children being
victimized at home; to share and report information on traffickers suspected
of exploiting women and children with VPU and Immigration. 

Judicial System Monitoring Programme, (JSMP), was established in 2001 to
promote compliance with International Human Rights standards by the
Timor-Leste justice system. The Victim Support Service supports, advises and
facilitates women’s access to the formal justice system. Their Women’s
Justice Unit monitors criminal cases of women survivors of SGBV and the
legislative process of the national parliament. Through their Legal Research
Unit and Outreach Unit, JSMP provides justice reports; media releases
through radio, television and the press and district-based workshops and
community discussions to inform the public about human rights women’s
rights, the law and the judicial process.

PRADET, (Psychological Recovery and Development in East Timor) founded in
2002, grasped the nettle of the case in 2004 of the multiple rape of a
fourteen-year-old girl by nine police, which a judge dismissed “for lack of
evidence.”  This led to the design of a comprehensive forensic protocol,
based on WHO guidelines, in three languages and the building and staffing of
a safe house, Fatin Hakmatek, which opened in 2006 at the National Hospital
in Dili. There, forensic examination for use in court assures that justice
can be served. Pradet provides mental health counseling and assistance to
women and children who have experienced physical or sexual abuse under a
memorandum of understanding with the East Timor Ministry of Health. PRADET
provides support for medical treatment, referral for legal aid (JSMP) and
longer-term shelter (Casa Vida for children and adolescents, Fokupers for
women and their children) for female survivors of DV and SGBV in Dili and by
referral from the districts. In the first eight months of 2007, Fatin
Hakmatek assisted 144 clients, including survivors of sexual assault,
domestic violence, child sexual abuse, abandonment and attempted suicide.
More recently they have partnered with IOM to work on counter-trafficking
and they have initiated a national campaign against alcohol abuse, as it is
one of the proven root causes of violence against women. 

Advocacy Organizations working to prevent DV and SGBV

The Alola Foundation was established in 2001, in response to the horrific
abduction and gang rape by the militia of Alola, a 14-year-old girl. Since
then the Alola Foundation has developed and refined five programme areas:
maternal and child health , education, economic development, advocacy and
management. It has increasingly moved toward providing practical support for
the economic empowerment of women and has now teamed with Oxfam to enable
rural women’s groups (with most members younger than 30) to set up
income-generating cooperatives. Three-day village-based workshops are
offered, which begin with interactive methods for stimulating discussion of
the main forms of violence and discrimination experienced by women in their
daily lives, such as discrimination in land and property inheritance
patterns, male dominance in leadership, and patriarchal cultural attitudes
that disempower and blame women. The workshops then help women identify
small, manageable steps they can take in their own lives to reduce violence
and discrimination. The workshops form income-generating cooperatives that
help reduce women’s economic dependence on men. Alola provides continuing
training and support to the cooperatives, including marketing opportunities.

Ba Futuru, a National NGO founded in 2004 has worked to reduce the
prevalence of violent discipline practices  through a training curriculum,
TAHRE - Transformative Arts and Human Rights Education Guide and resource
materials on child protection and positive discipline through a Positive
Discipline Manual,  Build Peace with Children, Guia Hari’i Dame Ho Labarik
Sira. For five years they have provided child rights, human rights, trauma
healing and peace building trainings to children and youth. They also
provide the opportunity for parents, teachers, Child Protection Focal
Points, Youth Representatives and community leaders to learn about the
negative impacts of physical punishment while building positive discipline
skills, instrumental to stopping the cycle of violence in homes and schools.
25 Trainings given in 2008 reached approximately 600 participants in Lautem,
Baucau, Manufahi, Ainaro and Dili. In Baucau, Teacher Training occurred in
January 2009 and in a follow up M&E in April 2009, a School Head reported
that 98% of the teachers no longer beat or hit their students. In separate
meetings with students, more than half reported they had not been hit since
the training of their teachers, and a teacher reported that he had stopping
hitting his wife, his own children and his students. In 2010 Ba Futuru hopes
to take the Strengthening Peace in the Lives of Children to 11 schools in
Covalima and one school in Dili; giving protection to the vulnerable, Goal
VI of the MDGs. Ba Futuru also coordinates with MSS/DNRS (Social Services)
and the Vulnerable Persons Unit of PNTL, the National Police and UNPol in
cases of child abuse and neglect, providing counseling and psychosocial

Grupu Feto Foin Sae Timor-Leste, East Timor Young Women’s Organization,
(GFFTL), promotes female literacy training in 11 districts and undertakes
advocacy against domestic violence in rural communities.

The HAQ Foundation, was founded in 1996 to promote human rights, including
gender rights. Through its programme on legal aid; upholding justice; law
and human rights education and enforcement, including human rights training
for PNTL; human rights monitoring; emergency assistance for refugees from
1998 to independence and for IDPs 2006 to the present; research, for example
on Japanese comfort women in WW II in Timor and an assessment of conflict
and violence by Martial Arts Groups; citizenship education; referendum and
election monitoring and advice to National Commissions and other Working
Groups formed by the Government; its internal programme and its new Peace
Building project, it has consistently and strongly promoted gender equality.

OPMT, the women’s wing of Fretilin was established in 1975. It is a member
organization of Rede Feto, the Women’s Network, and advocates for women’s
rights to political participation, gender equality and women’s literacy
through district-based training. As a Rede Feto partner, it is actively
involved in the campaign against violence toward women, particularly
domestic violence.

OPE/SEPI The Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality sits on the
Council of Ministers and is therefore able to influence decisions of the
Government and Parliament. SEPI is strongly supported by the United Nations’
mission and agencies. The office has benefited from advice from senior
international technical advisors on gender and violence against women and
from substantial donor funding. Strengthening national capacity to address
gender-based violence is one of its four core programs. OPE/SEPI
achievements include: 
*Legal changes to increase women’s participation in decision-making bodies,
including those that hear offences against women, at national and community
levels, and training of female candidates in this area with support from
*Presentation of pending legislation on domestic violence, now submitted to
*The 5/2004 law giving local authorities the duty to reduce domestic
violence in their communities. 
*Development with partners of a network of basic services for survivors. 
*Increased public awareness through extensive civic education and public
awareness campaigns. 
*Advocacy with the department of education to include in school curricula
the right of women to live free from violence. 
*Obtaining a grant of more than $5million under MDG-funding to work jointly
on the economic empowerment of women protecting them from violence. Funded
activities under this grant (2008–10) will include: strengthening referral
systems and agencies in the districts, especially links between the police
and NGOs; training and monitoring of the suco councils on implementing their
new duties to reduce domestic violence; expanding the system of
hospital-based safe spaces into the districts; activities to prevent
trafficking and to protect female internally-displaced persons; and to
provide rehabilitation for perpetrators and increase men’s gender activism.

Rede Feto (Women’s Network), is an umbrella network of seventeen national
organizations, established in 2001 as a direct result of deliberations at
the First National Women’s Congress in 2000 to promote gender equality and
women’s rights and to support women in development. Rede Feto promotes
advocacy for gender equality and women’s rights and strengthens the
organizational capacity of its members. Its gender-based violence project
during the IDP crisis was a collaborative effort involving Rede Feto, UNFPA,
JSMP, PRADET and OPE. It undertook an assessment of the incidence of SGBV in
IDP camps and the factors contributing to GBV, gave counseling to victims,
ensured victims were referred to organizations offering suitable forms of
support, trained camp managers in GBV response and facilitated community
education about GBV and human rights. Another important initiative developed
with Care International, FOKUPERS and OPE were the women’s committees made
up of female representatives from the camps. They liaised with camp
managers, police, and NGOs and agencies working in the IDP camps. Once the
SGBV program in the camps ended, there was concern that women would cease to
come forward with problems they faced. The committees are part of a
continuing programme by Rede Feto, with women becoming active in a range of
decision-making forums in communities as the IDP camps close. 

Service Providers and Advocacy groups struggle in Timor-Leste to provide
support to women and children who experience DV and SGBV. Human and
financial resources and continuity of staff, service provision and effective
advocacy are lacking. The constant challenge is to secure guaranteed
long-term funding to make the outreach sustainable and to expand and to
monitor these badly needed services in the districts. 

Lastly, brief consideration of the complex issues of prostitution,
trafficking and STIs/HIV will be given in the context of DV and SGBV. The
most recent comprehensive review was undertaken by Cathleen Caron for the
Alola Foundation in 2004. Another such study is urgently needed to secure
panel data for the past five years. Timorese and foreign men alike have
exploited women in Timor-Leste for centuries. Increases in sex working since
1999 partly reflect the large number of arrivals of foreign men. They work
in UN missions , international security forces and as foreign workers in
agencies and NGOs and since 2007, also as construction workers, primarily
from mainland China. 

Women sex workers cite DV, trauma from rape or sexual assault, unwanted
pregnancy, abandonment or divorce and the resulting economic insecurity as
the catalysts for entering sex work. The average age to begin was 17,
although 2/3rds of those women surveyed began at age 14.  Of male sex
workers surveyed, half sex work due to economic necessity, half to
supplement their other income; 3/4th were under 18. For both men and women
under 18, this constitutes statutory rape. Recent cases in 2009 of foreign
pedophiles have not gone to indictment or trial, an indication of the
vulnerability of minor aged sex workers and the impunity of the justice

The increasing client demand has also been met by more trafficking into
Timor of Chinese from Guangdong and Fujian, Thai and Philippine women,
attracted by the dollar economy.  The increase is partly reflected in 15
raids between 2001 and 2004, despite UN mission zero tolerance policies. The
raids and UN policies served to deflect sex working off the streets, out of
the brothels and into more call-ins, house-based, less-visible activity. Two
way extortion, by bar, club, massage parlor and/or brothel owners and
operators and by the police, local security company guards and martial arts
groups, all with overlapping memberships have contributed to rising cases of
prostitution, drug use and corruption.  

Both male and female sex workers experience violence and assert that abuse
is a risk, both from clients, the military and the police. No cases have
resulted in formal trials of traffickers, there has been no bi-lateral law
enforcement, despite trafficking being a transnational crime and without
anywhere safe to go, witnesses either return to sex work or leave Timor.
IOM, UNHCR and the revived Anti-Trafficking Working Group  have begun to
implement the regional Bali process, to involve the Embassies in Dili of
sending counties and to review for implementation human rights based
protection services and to increase the numbers of safe houses and the
information and access to these services.  

To the extent that the 2006 crisis provided new opportunities for
trafficking out of Timorese women and girls, one long-running case failed in
court to send a definitive message, although the adoption of the
anti-trafficking, anti-people smuggling and anti-organized crime statues in
August 2009 will help, if properly socialized and enforced. 
Sex workers and others note growing safety, health and medical issues. An
Oecusse woman Councillor concerned about the growing health risk reported,
“There is HIV/AIDS in Oecussi. It is with the youth and the prostitutes, and
it also comes from border meetings with TNI, the Indonesian Army, and their
former militias, and from people coming from Dili; there is AIDS in the UN.”

Failure to use condoms by Timorese clients was reported by both Timorese and
Indonesian male and female sex workers. They want monthly STI/HIV tests.
They also want a safe house or Resource Centre where they can access
condoms; alternate employment counseling; legal advice and assistance
regarding their labour rights and immigration problems, as prostitution is
In the population at large, particularly in the rural areas where many
people do not know what a condom is, more information about HIV/AIDS and STI
prevention is needed. Recent initiatives of the SISCa Community Health
Programme of the Ministry of Health, through the Global Fund;  more
reproductive health information through NGOs such as Alola Foundation
Health Alliance International (HAI), Marie Stopes International and AMKV and
an intensive, coordinated inter-ministerial, inter-agency campaign could
reverse the present trend which shows a radical escalation of reported
cases.  The view is that many cases are unreported due to ignorance and fear
but outreach campaigns for Voluntary Counselling & Testing to adolescents
and to the Security Forces and to sex workers have been initiated.  The
increasing incidents of DV and SGBV contribute to sex working as indicated
above. Conversely sex working has also contributed to the increasing cases
of DV and SGBV, particularly in the IDP camps, in a mutually reinforcing


DV and SGBV cases continue to increase in Timor-Leste due to physical and
economic insecurities – joblessness, family breakdown and gender mistrust
and continuing cycles of residential upheaval due to migration and forced
migration. Remedies suggested in the brief are consolidated below. 

Address discrimination and patriarchy 
•	All DV and SGBV is a threat to security. Improve civic education
outreach. More training needs to be provided to stop violence against women
and to promote child protection through local workshops. Training in gender
equality for boys and men at the suco level and in schools in all 13
districts needs to be intensified. Additional training for men, women and
children on the contents and meaning of the Constitution, CEDAW and the laws
of Timor-Leste to further alleviate gender discrimination and to achieve a
paradigm shift in attitudes about women’s rights is needed. 
•	Target families, teachers, administrators, new suco councillors and
prospective Metropolitan Assembly members and all political and policy
stakeholders at the district and national levels to eliminate specific
domestic and work-related discrimination.
•	Advocate equal opportunities for income generating and sustainable
development through work and advocate the equal right to own land and
property, as guaranteed by the Constitution. 

Advocate law enforcement by improving the quality and quantity of human
resources in the justice and security sectors

•	Mitigate corruption and extortion in the security services and
pursue DV and SGBV perpetrators by enforcing the laws, strengthening
investigation, supporting indictment, leading without undue delay to trial,
sentencing and imprisonment without release or amnesty, to end the present
impunity. Promote accurate record keeping, filing and databases for DV and
•	Prioritize long term support for DV and SGBV services with
integrated service provision, support for community networks for women and
children to include improved data base record keeping by service providers,
•	Advocate for truth seeking and justice to end impunity for the SGBV
crimes of the occupation period, 1974-99, through Parliament’s review of the
Chega! Report’s findings and recommendations submitted to them in 2005 and
those of the Truth and Friendship Commission of 2008 as well as for DV and
SGBV crimes perpetrated since 1999. 
•	Advocate the reduction of DV/SGBV incidents as they continue to
rise, by supporting and urgently seeking funds for paralegal training work
across all 13 districts of legal NGOs and CSOs, such as CEM and FFSO.
Communication must be improved, particularly to citizens at the grassroots.
This can only become a reality through the government’s commitment to invest
in rural infrastructure, including access to lower cost telecommunications;
improved roads, bridges and public transportation; health, education, water
and sanitation service provision. Water and firewood collection still
foreclose rural female children’s education.  
•	Help secure funding for suco-based information outreach on health
service provision and support for survivors of DV and SGBV in all 13
districts and for their access to effective formal and survivor-focussed
adat justice, to be achieved through legal reform. 
•	Support and publicise the IOM-Pradet community-based outreach on
anti-trafficking and the new legislation.  Help secure funding and publicise
UNICEF and the Global Fund of the MOH campaign and training for ‘cascade’
peer education for HIV/AIDS prevention and alcohol and drug prevention
advocacy in the sucos. Fund and prepare a comprehensive suco-based
grassroots campaign to disseminate the contents and meaning of DV law when

The challenge to reduce DV and SGBV in Timor-Leste was again taken up by the
Third Women’s Congress in 2008; by the appointment of national advocates in
the campaign to eradicate violence against women and children; by SEPI and
by the government (especially women parliamentarians) during the annual 16
days of Activism to eliminate Violence Against Women, in November and
December; by UNIFEM ; by UNICEF campaigns for child protection and by the
valuable contributions of many service providers and advocates in the NGO
community. Now the need is for these various platforms of action to be
pervasively socialised with all the citizens of Timor-Leste and for
sustainable funding to be found to achieve these goals.

Phyllis Ferguson, Oxford, 16 November 2009

Bu Wilson
Centre for International Governance and Justice,
Regulatory  Institutions Network (RegNet,  College of Asia and the Pacific, 
Australian National University, 
Canberra   ACT   0200 

T: 02 6125 5813
F: 02 6125 1507
M: 0407 087 086
E: Bu.Wilson at anu.edu.au


ANU Cricos Provider Code - 00120C   

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