Violence against women and girls in Timor-Leste (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report)

A review of the literature on violence against women and girls (VAWG) in Timor-Leste



Please provide a review of the literature that looks at violence against women and girls (VAWG) in Timor-Leste.

Key findings

The high prevalence of gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence, in Timor-Leste is considered to be a key challenge for the country. Not only is the extent of gender-based violence a serious concern, but also the severity of the violence.

Most of the available information on Timorese women and girls from 1975 to 1999 concerns experiences of sexual violence during the Indonesian occupation. There is recognition that incidents of intimate partner violence and family violence have increased significantly since 1999; although exact statistics are lacking, various sources provide a sense of the scale of the problem. The Demographic and Health Survey 2009-2010, for example, found that approximately 38 per cent women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence.

Advances have been made in strengthening the enabling environment for addressing violence against women, including key legislative developments and government, development partner and civil society initiatives. However, there is little analysis of the success or failure of such interventions and few programmes have been evaluated to track their impact objectively. The formal state justice system in Timor-Leste also faces significant capacity challenges. Due to various reasons women are often more comfortable going through local justice processes, though they have been critiqued for the dominance of patriarchal beliefs, and the lack of female involvement, transparency and enforcement of local rulings.


Haider, H. Violence against women and girls in Timor-Leste (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2012) 35 pp.

Violence against women and girls in Timor-Leste (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report)

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