BY JO CHANDLER THE AGE (Melbourne)
AS A GIRL GROWING UP in the Papua New Guinea township of Daru, just across the water from where the northernmost finger of the Australian mainland points into Torres Strait, Ume Wainetti enjoyed great freedom.
She would wander far and wide collecting firewood, or fish, or seashells. There were dangers, of course: her island home, near the mouth of the Fly River, was deep in wild country. Survival required that she could identify hidden hazards: swim strongly, read the treacherous tides and keep well clear of crocodiles.
It never occurred to her to be afraid of the men and boys whose paths she crossed. Forty years later, the risk of violent attack in many parts of PNG, including Daru, is such that it is unimaginable that girls might safely roam as Wainetti once did. Indeed, her own generation often find they have less freedom of movement today, as mature women, than they did as girls.
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