Months after the long-awaited passage of a law criminalizing domestic violence, IRIN met survivors staying at shelters in the capital, Dili, and in the southern Timorese town of Salele run by the NGO East Timor Women’s Communication Forum and Catholic missionary group Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit, respectively. Below are some of their testimonies*:
Susana, 16, incest victim with nine-month old baby
“It [the abuse] started when I was 11 years old. I told my mother, who went to the police in 2005. My father left the house [but continued to hurt me]. He was [convicted] on 24 June 2010 and we are waiting for a second court date for the sentencing. I went from the northern town of Los Palos to [district] Baucau and then to Covalima because I did not want anyone to know. I wanted to be a nun when I was nine years old, but that is not possible now. I must accept my fate and try to give my child a good life. So I swallow this secret.”
Maria, 31, police officer’s wife
"How did he hurt me? How [much time] do you have to listen to me? He hit me, screamed, kicked me out - several times. This is my third time here [shelter]. He is a police officer and I went to the head of police in Dili but nothing changed. I then went to the VPU [vulnerable persons’ unit of the national police] and they helped me file a case in court. But I changed my mind and before the case came to trial, I withdrew it. Now I am waiting for the court outcomes [of two separate trials, one criminal and one for divorce]. Because of culture, family, religion, I always went back to him. He has threatened me that if I tried to file for divorce, he would hurt me and my family. I would not feel safe even if he were locked up, but I have faith and want to give the justice system a try… I am not scared to be alone. I think life can be better and I want to find out.”
Rosalinda, 24, fleeing both father and husband
“When my husband beat me, I went to my father’s house, but he abused me again. Growing up, he had beaten me, my mother and siblings, but I went there because I did not know where [else] to go. I am here [at the shelter] waiting for my case to be resolved and then I will go back to my family. This is my second time here [at the shelter]. The case is taking time because the court is requesting evidence, but my father has gone to the village and cannot be reached. I do not care if my husband does not look after me, but I want him to take responsibility for his child.”
* Not their real names
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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