Timor-Leste Draws its Line on Domestic Violence

She was 21 and fed up. She went to the village head to tell him it was enough. She was the eldest of nine surviving children out of 14—children who had grown up in the quiet coffee forests of rural Timor-Leste, in a home filled with violence and fear. She visited the home of the xefe aldeia, the chief of her sub-village, to report her father’s decades-long acts of violence against her mother.

She told of her father’s anger, his aggression, their fear; the money for school fees that instead went to card games and palm wine, the childhood lived terrified and unsettled, permanently on edge. “Apa tenke para ona ho violensia,” she said to the chief. My father must stop with this violence.

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