The Kiribati study shows that violence against women is prevalent:
• More than 2 in 3 (68%) ever-partnered women aged 15–49 reported experiencing physical or sexual violence, or both, by an intimate partner.
• 47% of women aged 15–49 who had ever been in a relationship reported experiencing emotional abuse by a partner at least once. Almost 1 in 3 women (30%) experienced emotional abuse in the 12 months prior to the interview.
• Almost all (90%) ever-partnered women aged 15–49 reported experiencing at least one form of controlling behaviour by an intimate partner.
• Among women aged 15–49, 11% reported experiencing physical violence by someone other than an intimate partner, and 10% reported experiencing sexual non-partner violence. The most commonly mentioned perpetrators of physical violence were the respondent’s male family members, in particular her father or stepfather. The most commonly mentioned perpetrators of sexual violence were male acquaintances (such as family friends, work colleagues) and strangers.
• Approximately 20% of women who reported that they had ever had sexual intercourse reported that their first sexual experience was either coerced or forced and the younger the girl at first sexual encounter, the more likely sex was forced.
The relatively high prevalence of intimate partner violence in Kiribati likely relates to a multitude of factors at all levels of society. Some significant contributors may include:
• The acceptability of violence against women: the majority of women in Kiribati believe that a man is justified in beating his wife under some circumstances (in particular for infidelity and disobedience).
• The normalisation of controlling behaviours within intimate partner relationships: 90% of women reported that they had experienced at least one act of controlling behaviour by a partner. • The fact that physical punishment is often used as a form of disciplining women who are seen as transgressing their prescribed gender roles.
• The practice of physically disciplining children: children may learn from a young age that physical violence is normal (cycle of violence).
• The fact that current law does not define partner violence as a crime.
• The lack of formal support services available, which also makes it difficult for women to seek help.