Posted By Staff Reporter
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".
Studies have shown that PNG has endemic rates of DV, with more than 65% of all females over the age of 12 years victims, and over 75% ofall children suffering from abuse within the family unit.
The level and severity of abuse is horrifying; women having their limbs chopped off with a bush knife, being be-headed by their husband ina public market place, acts of torture where they are burnt with hot irons and their bones smashed with hammers. Black eyes and broken bones are on the lower-end of the scale of Domestic Violence in PNG.
We have 6200 members (and growing) in just nine months. PNGADV is showing women that they do not have to bear their pain in silence andthat they are not alone in their suffering. We are also helping many PNG men to change their attitude towards family violence and educating them about the long-term damage that can be caused to partners and children when living in a home where DV is practiced.
We are awakening victims of DV (female and male) that there are legal avenues for protecting themselves and for having their abusers apprehended and dealt with. We have a core group of committed Police Officers as members who give advice and assistance to victims right across PNG, including the Commander of the Family & Sexual Violence Unit of the RPNGC.
PNGADV is letting women and men know that DV is a crime, both legally and morally, and perpetrators can end up in gaol. We are challenging the attitude that it is “a family matter”, and promoting DV as amatter of importance to the whole community.
We have begun collecting stories about traditional village ways of resolving conflicts, so we can give men (in particular) knowledge of other ways to respond to anger in a more purely cultural way.
Educating men about the equality of women, who are their peers, not their possessions. Encouraging all to understand the role of women in a family unit and their basic human rights.
Highlighting the importance ofwomen in the overall building of a nation and positive development; pointing out that family violence retards development in PNG.
By refusing to allow men, or women, who have no understanding of the issues to get away with undermining our determination to publicise the criminality of DV by mis-quoting scripture, putting women down, twisting our words etc. Educating such men by strongly, but respectfully, worded arguments refuting their assertions.NOTE: these efforts have at times led tomen reconsidering and then changing their previous positions completely.
Speaking out against the current notion of the bride price leading in effect to a perception of 'ownership' of the woman. Seeking alternatives where the traditional concept of Bride Price can sit comfortably in a modern world.
Educating young people to read a situation ahead and avoid trouble (eg getting drunk, walking alone at night, . . . ) rather than having to get out of trouble once in it.
We have two petitions drawn up and collecting signatures; both to bring attention to DV and demanding action to protect the rights of ourcitizens from DV.
Professor Judy Atkinson's modules being taught to facilitators to assist those in the field already with the latest anti-DVmaterial. Professor Atkinson came to PNG and ran the first “Family Violence Community Recovery Workshop” in PNG in 2009. She is the recognised leader in this field world-wide especially within indigenous communities. Judy is a regular contributor to PNGADV and has “gifted” us with her training modules for use in PNG.
We also offer a free on-line e-counselling service to members; where they have access to a fully qualified psychologists who specialises in issues relating to Family and Sexual Violence. Genevieve can becontacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our current project is “Salwah’s Shelter”. This is an emergency shelter for victims of DV. We have been given a piece of land in PortMoresby and have started fund-raising to build a ‘shelter’ for victims of DV and their children who are at risk in their own home.
To start we have purchased a large tent and tarp and it has been used for the past 5 months to house our first victims here at our Cuma School, until the permanent shelter is built.
Victims and their children are accommodated and provisioned. They receive protection and counselling. Provided the victim agrees; the abuser is allowed to visit their family at Salwah’s Shelter under supervision, and we counsel the abuser as well. the victim is not released until they feel comfortable to go home and we are satisfied that it is safe to do so.
It is planned that Salwah’s Shelter will also provide training for victims in our own Bakery and courses run to become professional house-keepers, dress-makers, and in crafts; with a view to empowering victims by allowing them the opportunity to be financially independent.
We will need house parents, basic medical access, counselling, schooling, food, sanitation, washing facilities, and physical safety.
The services will extend to counselling for the abusers aswell as the victims; in an effort to ensure that the victim and their children can return to their home and be safe from further abuse.
Our members come from all walks of life and many from outside of PNG. PNGADV is presently run by 4 women; 2 Christians, 1 Athiest,and 1 Muslim.
Work closely with network partners who have similar goals as PNGADV and strengthen the relationship between all partners.
Conduct “Family Violence, Community Recovery Workshops” all across PNG and educate families and communities about human rights and the importance of ridding society of violence. These workshops also heal and restore people to their natural state before they were traumatised and damaged.
Train a large group of Papua New Guineans to facilitate and run these worshops in their own communities and Provinces.
Introduce tertiary studies to PNGto include:
Certificate Level 4 of Indigenous Therapies
Undergraduate Degree in Trauma and healing
Masters Degree in Indigenous Studies (Wellbeing) – presently offered only at Gnibi (SouthernCross University – NSW – Australia)
Network with Govt Depts and other NGOs to provide “Family Resource Centres” in all Provinces; places of refuge and learning for victims and abusers where counselling is provided and ‘educaring’ is carried out to heal trauma and restore families to a state of functionality.
Under the auspices of Harvard University, research family and sexual violence in the context of PNG culture and tradition with a view to providing appropriate and culturally sensitive solutions to family and community violence in PNG.
Search Papua New Guinea Database >>