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Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title Customary values and global influences in youth attitudes to gender and violence in Timor-Leste
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Violência doméstica, or domestic violence (DV) is a major issue, demonstrated by the fact that it is
the crime most commonly dealt with by the justice system in Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
(RDTL), with about half of all court cases estimated to be DV. Gender equality is enshrined in the
constitution. The Law Against Domestic Violence (LADV) which was passed in 2010 makes DV a
criminal offence but this research suggests it is little understood by the majority of the population and
is said to directly conflict with Timorese culture.
Around 70% of the population of Timor-Leste live by subsistence agriculture (NDS 2010) in
extended family networks where customary practices determine gendered roles and relationships.
Customary practices do not readily accommodate international standards of democratic principles,
human rights and gender equity, recently introduced by RDTL. In Timorese cultural belief, women
are accorded a sacred status through a divine female element, but while they may hold power in a
ritual context they generally do not have a strong public or political voice (Niner 2013).
This paper draws on a study of 15-24-year-old young women and men to analyse their attitudes to
gender equality and domestic violence in the context of social change taking place in this rapidly
modernising country.

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