VANUATU WOMEN RAGE AGAINST SUPREME COURT DECISION

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PORT VILLA, Vanuatu (May 31, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---Women are criticizing Vanuatu's Supreme Court decision to give a suspended jail sentence to a man who murdered his wife.

The penal code calls for a 10-year jail term for this type of offense.

However, the Supreme Court has awarded the accused a lesser sentence, saying he had a responsibility of looking after his five children.

Vanuatu's National Council of Women Chairperson Marie Noelle Patterson said the lenient sentence is laughable.

"It’s very frightening," she said. "We all know that violence against women is not decreasing, so instead of being stricter to men (the court) is being more lenient."

"We’re just asking for the existing law to be implemented," she said. "This sentence gives other perpetrators the license to kill."

Patterson would like to see more education on violence against women and more women in the judiciary system.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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