AN estimated 1.4 million Papua New Guineans are affected by gender-based violence annually, with accusations of sorcery one of the many issues women and girls face, an inquiry has been told.
A two-day public inquiry on gender-based violence before a special parliamentary committee in Port Moresby heard that it worked out to a woman dying or being injured every 30 seconds through such violence.
Issues raised included prosecution, funding, polygamy, and access to services by victims.
Voice for Change founder Lilly Be’Soer who is based in Jiwaka told inquiry chairman Charles Abel that accessibility to services by women in rural areas was a big problem.
“Women in the rural areas do not have access to the services that is available to those women in the city or towns,” she said.
“Women who come to me for help have no phones, no form of literacy and when they take the case to the village court, they are outnumbered.
“How can a women report violence when she is not given support?”
Sister Lorraine Garasu from the Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation speaking via Zoom from Bougainville told the inquiry that violence was a “learned behaviour”.
“Here in Bougainville we have safe houses, we have community awareness reaching down to primary school,” she said.
“We see that violence is a learned behaviour and we try to change the child at primary school level before he or she becomes an adult.”
Gary Bustin of Tribal Foundation said what was happening to women and children in sorcery-related violence “is beyond what an animal would savagely do to another”.
“It is beyond torture. It is beyond human.”
The inquiry ends today.
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