The Papua New Guinea Law Society condemns all forms of gender and family based violence.
In a statement by the Lawyers’ peak body, it said that the prevalence of the problem calls for renewed and concerted efforts by all concerned to weed out this ill from our society.
The National Government’s Policy statement on the issue was the culmination of great work by relevant Government agencies and development partners to understand the problem and suggest workable solutions as an inclusive whole of government response on gender based violence, which followed through with important legislative reforms and programs.
By Dulciana Somare-Brash, former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare's daughter
The death of a very young mother after a life of violent abuse has triggered much public condemnation and inadvertently some soul searching by our people online and elsewhere. Last week a woman carrying a placard at a related protest came under attack online for daring to reveal the underbelly of the broader issue of Gender Based Violence (GBV), Family sexual violence and abuse in Papua New Guinea (PNG). She stated as pictured: “PNG is not a safe place to be a female.”
Commentators online felt that that was a matter of opinion; in fact many suggested her opinion was the wrong one. Relegating her lived experiences and the stories of so many women and girls to mere futile complaints that betrayed PNGs reality. Both men and women online were horrified at the confronting placard.
'The New Year Celebrations did not go down well with one family in Port Moresby.
Lero Pat from Mendi, in the Southern Highlands Province, almost lost her life when she was repeatedly bashed up by her son-in-law on New Year’s Night.
Her son-in-law is a prominent Lawyer and Principal Founder of a reknowned Law Firm.
As millions welcomed in the New Year with celebration, it was a horrific experience for Lero Pat, a mother of five young girls from Mendi in the Southern Highlands Province, who resides in Port Moresby.
She visited the EMTV Studio to tell her of her ordeal.
Lero claims it’s not the first time her son-in-law has bashed her up badly. This has been happening since her daughter married a prominent lawyer about three years ago. Lero claims one of her younger daughters was also allegedly raped by this lawyer.
Lero was rushed to Port Moresby General Hospital where she received eight stitches to her head and it’s a sad case for her as she will have one of her fingers amputated, all the bones being crushed by the tyre rim that was used to repeatedly bash her.
She has reported the matter at the Boroko Police Station, but they required a Medical report. She got that done, and now wants police to deal with the matter and ensure perpetrators of violence against women are put behind bars.'
A young deaf and dumb girl was kidnapped from a public toilet and allegedly raped by two unidentified men on Saturday night in the Western Highlands Province.
The incident happened in Lumusa Distr-ict where the young girl was grabbed by two men and carried away to another location where she was raped over several hours before being released.
Mark Balati, a reserve policeman in Lumusa who reported the incident to the media, said law and order agents in the district are questioning every young man as a possible suspect after the girl described her attackers through sign language.
"We have some prime suspects and we hope to arrest them and hand them over to Mt Hagen police soon," Mr Balati said.
The reserve policeman said many of the young boys from the area were in Baiyer for a rugby league match when the incident occurred.
According to Mr Balati, the girl was inside a toilet when the two men grabbed her and covered her mouth to stop her from screaming and carried her away. She was reportedly raped for several hours before being released.
Mr Balati said the people of Lumusa are fed up with such crimes and are expected to arrest the suspects and hand them over to the police.
Todays media report reminds the public of the fact that the death penalty is coming and is not far. Thirteen men sentenced for unspeakable crimes of piracy, attempted piracy and willful murder years or decades ago can start counting their days. They are unlikely to see another Christmas or New Year celebration. Their mothers, wives and children better forget about them. High ranking PNG government officials have travelled abroad during the year 2013 trying to understand if it would be easier to get rid of them by lethal injection, hanging, or firing squad.
The countries visited, reportedly US, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are not on the top list of human rights watchdogs, but at least others such as China, Iran or Saudi Arabia were avoided. One day the nation will wake up at the news the first head (since 1954) has rolled probably somewhere in Bomana. We refuse to believe that all thirteen inmates will be executed at the same time, that way prompting PNG to grab for the first time in history the headlines of all international media.
It is the expectation of the government, and probably the great majority of the country’ citizens, that after this bloody and gruesome exercise crime will drastically drop all over PNG. It never happened anywhere in the world, but we normally say that Papua New Guinea is “different”.
It is also admitted in informal debates that executioners will have to be hired (hopefully at a reasonable price) from outside the country to avoid ensuing retaliation and possible tribal fights among PNG citizens. It’s like years ago hiring foreign mercenaries to kill people in Bougainville. A lesson apparently not learned. Will in fact relatives and wantoks of the criminals not hold the highest officials of the Department of Justice responsible for the execution of their guilty relatives? Is it going to be Sepiks against Simbus once again?
The death penalty is coming like a thief. But it may not be able to get away scot free.
The National - SIXTY-eight percent or more than 2.3 million women in Papua New Guinea have experienced violence, Health Minister Michael Malabag said. One third, or 1.13 million, were subjected to rape and 17% of sexual abuse involved girls between the ages 13 and 14.
The staggering statistics were revealed by Malabag at the observation of the “1 Billion Rising” event at Port Moresby’s Jack Pidik Park. And suggestions were that the figures were even higher as numbers of were based on reported cases.
Grimmer still was Malabag’s comment that the abuses and violence against our women was not getting any better. Accused of sorcery killing, a 20-year-old woman, the mother of a baby girl, was tortured and burnt alive last week and two others were saved from a similar barbaric fate by quick police action.
These incidents highlighted some of the abuses faced in this country. Women gathered to join worldwide commemoration of the “1 Billion Rising” event yesterday, with the theme “Break the silence, make a statement”.
“Sixty eight percent of women in PNG have experienced one form of violence or another,” Malabag told the gathering. “One-third of women were subjected to rape and 17% of sexual abuse involves young girls between the ages of 13 and 14.
” Malabag said a recent study by the PNG Institute of Medical Research showed that 55% or 1.86 million of PNG women were victims of forced sex within marriage. “And I believe the situation has worsened. “We still have a long way to go in dealing with our attitude,” Malabag said.
He said lack of government attention and support had contributed to the current situation.
However, he condemned those who encouraged early marriage and prostitution, saying such acts reduced women’s dignity. He said the Constitution allowed for equal participation in development where women should not be overlooked.
Malabag also announced that more family support centres would be established throughout the country to cater for victims of abuse and violence.
“Gender issues cannot be separated from health issues. “Women are not just beaten but die because they do not have basic support centres – even in the city. “Instead of being reactive, we must be proactive. “Let us not wait for women to report the cases.”
Coinciding with Valentine’s Day, the occasion provided an opportunity for women and the public to call for an end to abuse and violence against women in PNG.
- The National
A jet plane landed at Port Moresby’s Jackson International Airport not many weeks back and created a stir.
The plane seemed to have been Pacific island hoping and there were some suggestions the persons aboard were of dubious character and that certain actions of the crew were suspicious.
Even the Customs and Immigration officials were baffled, as were Civil Aviation.
In the end, all turned out to be alright, that there was nothing sinister about the purpose of the flight or the actions of the crew, but the assurance had to come from high up the political ladder and, unfortunately, well after much had been made of the issue in the media.
PNG seems prone to these kinds of sudden visits, clandestine or otherwise that are shrouded in mystery which serve to raise more questions than they settle.
During the Somare era, there was the report about a certain multi-billionaire of Thai origin who flew in, again with little knowledge of people on the ground who should know. He reportedly toured parts of the country including Wewak and the hinterlands of East Sepik looking at prime agricultural and timberland before flying out again. The personality, like a snail, seemed to leave a silvery trail behind him and not all of it complimentary.
There was the other case of a certain Papua New Guinean politician and a lawyer getting mixed up with personages of Taiwanese origin, the latter of which ended up being indicted at Taiwanese criminal courts.
A former PNG prime minister ended up in Taiwan when he was officially meant to be in Australia where he proudly announced a US$1 billion deal which money was never heard of again in PNG.
A more recent meeting by PNG politicians and a person with a police record in another country is the celebrated case of Djoko Tjandra.
Tjandra entered the country, received political patronage from a number of senior politicians including their active soliciting for him to gain citizenship, all the while he was facing serious charges back in his home country – Indonesia.
Today the granting of that citizenship is in question and his passport is withheld pending a review of the processes involved in his attaining citizenship.
These incidents seem to follow a similar pattern. PNG officials – normally Customs and Immigrations – raise the alarm about the sudden unannounced arrival of persons or crafts on PNG shores. Then the all clear is sounded from political sources which seem to be well aware of the movements of these persons but who seem to have contempt for the Customs and Immigration laws and processes in place to protect PNG.
These incidents, and there are many more than the examples above, caused far more collateral damage for Papua New Guinea’s image here and abroad than imagined by those involved.
On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with a couple of politicians meeting with a couple of expatriate businessmen or influential people or even coming to their defence.
Indeed, it does not matter a wit whether or not these expatriates do in fact stand guilty of any wrongdoing.
The damage is already done at the first meeting or defence by PNG politicians of persons who clearly seem to flout PNG laws or who have past or current records elsewhere which are questionable.
This is the age of the internet. A person or entity carries its past with him. There are no secrets or they do not remain so for long.
Issues such as corruption are like a matter of perception. Association with personages who might have cases to answer or who are being pursued by authorities in their own land rubs off on our politicians and in the end upon our country.
A quite simple meeting by a senior politician with somebody with an Interpol record immediately raises eyebrows and when these kind of meetings seem to be repeated over a period of time, reasonable people will reasonably develop opinions that a shadowy agenda is being pursued. And that is all it takes, the perception, to drop PNG’s corruption ranking further down the ladder.
It behooves all our leaders to ensure that any investor who is invited into the country has a squeaky clean record and that all visits are carried out above board with all systems and clearance processes in the country adhered to.
Nobody, but nobody, should be seen to rise above our laws. Just the perception that this is happening is sufficient to damage PNG’s tattered image further.
Presenting what is known in United Nations as the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to the 18th session of the Human Rights Council on July 11, 2011, Papua New Guinea declared that, like other countries, it was faced with human rights issues and challenges.
Its presentation, through ambassador Robert Aisi, considered that “most of those challenges could be attributed to the country’s current stage of development; cultural diversity, which although not an excuse, was a very distinct feature of the country; lack of basic health-care, education and other services; and inaccessibility to government services”.
PNG acknowledged that the government would take ownership in addressing human rights issues but also called for support from the wider international community such as the UN, the donor community, the private sector and civil society.
At the session, the country’s ambassador affirmed that the National Constitution “accorded all persons living in the country the basic rights and freedoms espoused by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and noted that PNG had “ratified most United Nations’ human rights conventions” but explained that “the delay in ratification of certain instruments should be attributed to the country’s lack of resources and capacity constraints”.
It was added that the country had put in place the necessary laws and institutional mechanisms to address human rights issues, but that it was experiencing an increase in human rights challenges, such as sorcery-related killings and the use of affordable mobile telephones services and access to internet to commit human rights violations.
And so there you have it. While all the laws, the systems and processes are in place, this country through its government and its various legal institutions continue to provide convenient excuses for some of the gross violations of human rights and downright simple, cold-blooded murder, many of which are preventable.
The murder of a mother of an eight-month-old baby who was “cooked” in front of a gathering public including school-aged children last week in Mt Hagen cannot be put down to “lack of resources or capacity constraints”.
Neither can it be put down to “the country’s current stage of development; cultural diversity, lack of basic health-care, education and other services; or inaccessibility to government services”.
It is plain and simple cold-blooded, premeditated murder in the first degree.
There is no other way to describe it. There is no excuse for it.
The laws of this country allow for trial in a court of law, that everybody is presumed innocent until convicted by the weight of evidence before court.
There is no law which prescribes what happened in broad daylight in Mt Hagen and many other areas right around the country.
Today, we carry another report that five men were put to death in the same kangaroo court situation in the Madang area.
So long as the government tolerates by its lack of decisive action, this kind of unmentionable torture killings, they will continue.
At that July 2011 meeting at the UN general assembly, Germany had asked how the PNG government would address a special rapporteur’s report on the question of torture, which also indicated that police beatings often reached the level of torture as defined in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and reports of brutal torture and killings of women and girls, especially elderly women, accused of witchcraft.
We repeat the same question.
It is not enough to express outrage. We must go further to introduce laws and further to ensure they are enforced.
Policemen arrived too late to prevent the killing of the poor mother last week in Mt Hagen but there were scores of Papua New Guineans observing the scene unfolding as if it were a drama enacted for their entertainment.
And so long as that persists, the violence will also continue.
Almost as a testimony to the relaxed manner in which authorities approach this subject, the prime suspect in what we would describe as first degree murder, escaped from police custody.
And the police commander on the ground was uncertain enough to announce he was going to treat the matter as a murder case.
Blinded by policeman husband
How bai yu tanim bek na paitim na brukim displa pes yu bin laikim na maritim?
We Papua New Guineans, make excuses for wife-bashers. We say "it's a family problem" and we shouldn't get involved. But look at what it is doing to us as a society! Its causing children to accept that violence is a way of life. We complain about assaults and killings but not domestic violence. What is wrong with us??
Blinded for life
A young mother is completely blind because of injury inflicted by her abusive policeman husband in a violent three-year marriage that ended in November last year. She is Elsie, who lives at the Bumbu Police Barracks in Lae with her family. Her father is also a policeman based in Lae. A mother of a beautiful nine-month-old baby girl, Elsie was forced to flee from her home at the Taraka Police Barracks, at the outskirts of Lae city, where she lived with her rogue cop husband and fled from him to live with her parents at the Bumbu Police Barracks.
Her tale is similar to that of another young mother, Joy Wartovo who bravely went public with her story of suffering abuse, beatings and burns from her police husband in December last year. In the case of Elsie, the three years of marriage to this member of the Lae Police Task Force was, like Joy’s marriage, hell on earth.
Of all the beatings and abuse she received at the hands of her husband, Elsie had to put up with them for the sake of their child but the last attack on the 28 November 2010, changed her life completely.
In one of his jealous rages, the policeman husband attacked Elsie and threw his mobile phone at her, hitting her in her right eye.
Elsie had only one good eye. When she was in grade six in school, she was playing with her friends and had a freak accident, which resulted in her losing sight in her left eye completely. She had depended on her right eye, which became the target of her husband’s rage.
PNG has a high incidence of gender-based violence Photo: David Swanson/IRIN
By Cuma PNG (Facebook Post)
PNGADV started as a facebook page out of frustration at thelack of action, on the part of Police, to the horrendous violence that one of their officers had habitually practiced against a young woman and mother, Joy Wartovo, inside the Police Barracks at Gordons for over 6 years. Within 3 days it had over 5,000 members.
Cuma-PNG was one of the first members and was made an"administrator" of the page on the first day. I vividly remember being glued to my computer day and night just to add members as the requests flooded in.
Whilst many joined simply because they were against DV; it became evident within the first few days that many were victims themselves or abusers, and had nowhere to turn for advice and support. Some were not even aware that it was against PNG Law and International Laws to physically abuse a spouse.
There was an overwhelming sense of relief that finally someone was speaking up about Family Violence and saying, "Hey, this is WRONG".