George Lanwi, COMMISSIONER of Police, RMI: Working Closely With NGOs Is Critical

7 Feb, 2018

[GUAM Feb 07 2018]  George Lanwi, who has been the Commissioner of Police in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) for the last twenty-years and a member of the RMI police force for 30 years, says that working closely with their women’s group, Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI), is an effective working relationship in addressing domestic violence cases on the island.

Lanwi also recognises the importance that the President of their country has placed on ending all forms of violence against women.  President Hilda Heine is the first female leader of any independent Pacific island nation and is the eighth President of the Marshall Islands.  She was also the first Marshallese to attain a Doctorate and was a founder of WUTMI.

RMI’s National Study on Family Heath and Safety undertaken in 2014 shows a prevalence rate of 50.9% of women who have been in an intimate partner relationships and who have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in her lifetime.

Lanwi explained the difficulty they have in encouraging victims of domestic violence to come forward and report what has happened to them, “I know it is really hard for our women to report incidences of violence because our culture and even religious beliefs make it difficult for them to come forward and report, but since our Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U) was established with WUTMI I have seen some positive changes happen particularly in the area of counselling and support services for women victims,” said Lanwi.

The M.O.U between the RMI police and WUTMI is a joint working protocol between WUTMI and the police Domestic Violence Prevention Unit.  Lanwi explained that the M.O.U strengthens collaboration between both the police and WUTMI with the overall purpose being to improve survivors’ experience of reporting incidents of violence to the police, “we have legislation in place but unfortunately many victims of domestics violence do not understand what their rights are and because of their lack of understanding, they fail to report because they don’t understand that their rights are being violated and that they can seek help,” said Lanwi.  Lanwi believes that women’s organisations such as WUTMI have a huge role to play in raising awareness of women’s rights and domestic violence under the law and the police should work in partnership and support such activities.

Lanwi said that the training he has attended this week is critical and believes that all police in RMI should undertake the training.  He believes that it will help shift attitudes and behaviours that prevents officers from undertaking their roles and responsibilities professionally, “we had an incident in 2015 where a victim lost her life to domestic violence and I believe had all our police undergone this training they would have been equipped and skilled and to addressed this particular case with a much better understanding of the cycle of violence and the impact of violence on women,” expressed Lanwi.

Lanwi looks forward to returning to RMI and recruiting more women to the force.  Lanwi is attending the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) Gender and Human Rights Training for Senior Executive Level Police Officers from the Micronesian region in Guam [ENDS]

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