01 November 2017

Court Proceedings Highlight Social Problem of Domestic Violence in Timor-Leste

East Timorese woman portrait, Arte Moris 2008
ETLJB 01/11/2017 There is only one accessible source of court reporting in East Timor. It is the Judicial System Monitoring Program. It was established in 2000 and has played a central role in the monitoring of the courts in East Timor from the perspective of civil society.

JSMP conducts monitoring and reporting of cases before the District Courts of East Timor in Dili, Baucau, Suai and Oe-cusse. The reports are published in Tetum and English.

The latest report by JSMP is on proceedings in the Oe-cusse District Court for the period of July 2017. The report is presently only available in Tetum.

JSMP reported on 26 cases in the court for that month.

Of those 26 cases, all bar 7 were cases of domestic violence. Similarly, JSMP's report on the Baucau District Court for September 2017 also indicates a high level of domestic violence cases in that District Court's jurisdiction as well. This has been the case consistently for many of JSMP's reports over many years.

These cases highlight the significant social problem of domestic violence in East Timor. The problematical behaviour here is the deployment of physical violence (and most likely psychological violence as well) by men against women who are in a domestic relationship. There are some anomalous cases of violence by women against their male partners. Although the Parliament enacted a specific law on domestic violence and the rules are clear, that alone is clearly insufficient to combat the problematical behaviour.

This is not to say that East Timor alone has particularly high levels of domestic violence. Violence against women is now recognised to be a serious and widespread problem in Australia, with enormous individual and community impacts and social costs.

According to Our Watch, on average, at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia. ​
One in three Australian women has experienced physical violence, since the age of 15.
One in five Australian women has experienced sexual violence.
One in four Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner.

All social and political institutions should be dedicated to the eradication of domestic violence. In East Timor, the leading CSO dedicated to providing support, sanctuary and legal assistance to women victims of domestic violence in Pradet.

ETLJB urges all stakeholders in the process of democratic social transformation to pay attention to the problem of domestic violence in East Timor and to do their utmost to keep everyone's attention on this problem, to continue to support the development of policies and further regulation in this area, to continue to provide support to the victims of domestic violence and organisations such as Pradet.

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