The top United Nations envoy to Timor-Leste has underscored the need for dialogue to bring an end to gender-based violence in the fledgling South-East Asian nation.
Yesterday, Ameerah Haq, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, visited Covalima, a district in the country's southwest, where she visited a safe house, home to women who have been targets of domestic or sexual violence.
As part of an event entitled Open Day Dialogue, she visited the town of Salele, where religious groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and police report high levels of gender-based violence, including child prostitution and domestic violence against women and children.
There, Ms. Haq was told by Amelia de Jesus Amaral, an officer serving with the Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL) who runs the Vulnerable Persons Unit, that women have limited access to justice.
“Women have no real opportunity to present their cases to the police,” especially in cases of domestic violence,” she said.
The Special Representative acknowledged that “there is much more to be done given the vast scale of needs and to overcome the challenges we are still facing.”
She voiced hope that dialogue will help to bolster the partnership between the UN and Timor-Leste to “build peace and security” for the country's women.
The Open Day Dialogue is being held to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Security Council's landmark resolution 1325. That resolution stresses the importance of giving women equal participation and full involvement in peace and security matters and the need to increase their role in decision-making.