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