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Timorese leaders sign charter on preventing violence against women and children

Asia Foundation - November 23, 2016

Dili – Today, thirteen influential leaders, including from government, institutions, and civil society, signed a Charter declaring their commitment to preventing violence against women and children in Timor-Leste.

The declarations were made during the launch of a creative short film, "Coffee Consent," which aims to educate Timorese youth about the meaning of consent in relationships. The event was hosted by The Asia Foundation's Nabilan (Ending Violence Against Women) Program and the Australian Embassy in Timor-Leste.

The Charter lists ten every-day actions that individuals promise to take to promote healthy and respectful relationships and gender equality. In addition to today's public affirmation of the Charter by Timorese leaders and organizations, the Charter is open to signature by all Timorese as an online petition and a social media campaign is actively promoting the initiative on Facebook and elsewhere.

"Violence against women is a huge problem around the world. The Australian Government is proud to support the Nabilan Ending Violence Against Women program and this commitment to building healthy and respectful relationships in families, homes, workplaces, and communities of Timor-Leste," said Peter Doyle, Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste.

"Young people need positive role models who set a strong example of how to promote gender equality, and how to have respectful and consensual relationships," said Susan Marx, The Asia Foundation's Country Representative in Timor-Leste.

"By signing the Charter, people can publicly illustrate their commitment to being such a role model, by taking practical steps to prevent violence against women and children in their daily life," said Ms. Marx.

Levels of sexual violence against women and children in Timor-Leste are high, as shown by The Asia Foundation's research, the Nabilan Health and Life Experiences Baseline Study completed in 2015. More than one in four men surveyed admitted that they had raped a woman – including their wives or girlfriends. Sixty-eight percent of those men who had perpetrated rape were motivated by sexual entitlement, meaning that they believed that they had the right to sex, regardless of consent.

"We see the devastating impact of sexual violence every day. We must teach children about their value as human beings and the importance of mutual respect and consent in relationships," said Sujana Ximenes, Director of Casa Vida, a shelter for child victims of abuse in Timor-Leste.

Henrique da Silva, a Director within the Secretary of State for the Support and Socio-economical Promotion of Women (SEM) said, "SEM is very pleased to be signing this important declaration of our commitment to ending violence against women and children," noting that it "directly contributes to the outputs of the new National Action Plan on Gender-based Violence."

The short film was adapted from a film called "Tea Consent," which was produced by the company Blue Seat and has been recognized internationally for its effective messaging. The film has been seen by millions of people worldwide. The Asia Foundation translated the film to Tetum and is proud to make it available to Timorese audiences. For the next 30 days, "Coffee Consent" will be shown prior to movie screenings at Platinum Cineplex in Dili. It will also be available to view for free online.

This event was part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.

For more information, please visit:

  • The Asia Foundation in Timor-Leste on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theasiafoundationtl/
  • The Charter on Preventing Violence against Women and Children on iPetition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/komitmentu-sobre-prevensaun-violensia-kontra-feto

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