Social Concerns Notes – June 2013
Fr. Phil Gibbs, SVD
The National, Monday 3rd June 2013
THE Epeanda aid post in the Southern Highlands last Saturday welcomed Pacific health workers for the first HIV/AIDS education programme to strengthen a Pacific response to the pandemic.Seven health care workers from Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu arrived in Mendi to begin a 10-day training programme on HIV/AIDS aiming to upgrade their skills and knowledge on testing, treatment and care. The Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) and the Oceania Society for Sexual Health and HIV Medicine (OSSHHM) have received funding from AusAID Regional HIV/AIDS capacity building programme. This is to develop an innovative training package comprising a clinical workshop in Papua New Guinea, an adult education workshop in Fiji and mentoring/clinical follow-up in the country. The 10-day HIV clinical training programme is hosted by the Catholic Health Services in Mendi. The Pacific participants will learn from their colleagues, observing a high HIV case-load setting at the Catholic diocese of Mendi, where more than 850 HIV positive patients receive treatment and care through the Epeanda aid post and HIV clinic. The Health Department and the PNG Sexual Health Society are also collaborating with programme partners.
Students in sex trade
Post Courier 14 June, 2013
PROSTITUTION by minors and young girls is on the rise in the National Capital District, with students linked to night clubs as a result of high cost of living in the city. According to an interview with at least three non-government organisations who have programs dealing with child sex trade in the city, there has been an increase in prostitution by minors and young girls by 30 per cent this year compared to the last report done in 2010. These organisations have also blamed increase in nightclubs in the city with no proper monitoring control mechanism in place, coupled with the high cost of living in NCD. Children between the ages of 13-16 are reported to be involved in this trade in the city, with well-to-do elites and harbour and aid them to lure customers for their business. These children or school girls who are forced into prostitution which is made to service men from all ages for a fee and others for a hefty amount to fend for their living, their needs and to help their families as the cost of goods and services in the city has risen. According to one survey report, about 52 per cent of young girls involved in “nightclub prostitution” are between the ages of 13-16 years.
The National, June 24th, 2013
THE vulnerability to human trafficking of “Mosko Girls” – young girls who are employed in nightclubs to provide companionship to male patrons and sell an alcoholic drink called Mosko – emerged as a new trend in cities in Papua New Guinea last year, a United States government report says. “Teenagers, particularly underage girls, are employed in nightclubs as hostesses, dancers and bartenders.” The US State Department said in its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released last Wednesday that while child labour was outlawed in Papua New Guinea, it is estimated that 19% of its labour force was composed of underage workers. The report labelled PNG as “a source, destination and transit country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour”. It said women and children in PNG were subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude while the men were subjected to forced labour in logging and mining camps. … “Asian crime rings, foreign logging companies and foreign business people arrange for some foreign women to voluntarily enter PNG with fraudulently issued tourist or business visas. Subsequent to their arrival, many of the women, from countries including Malaysia, Thailand, China and the Philippines, are turned over to traffickers who transport them to logging and mining camps, fisheries, and entertainment sites, and then exploit them in forced prostitution and domestic servitude,” the report said.
See full report at ---
Trafficking in persons – UN State Department Report on PNG
Survey needed on Prostitution
The National, 20 June 2013
A survey is required to verify reports of teenage girls and schoolgirls going into prostitution, according to the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC). Programmes coordinator Isi Oru said the survey would verify claims in the media and recommend measures to deal with the issue. “The problem is real and is evident right across the country. A survey will be beneficial to come up with laws to prosecute the perpetrators and know the plight of the females,” he said. “There is a need for a national survey on this issue and this should be headed by relevant government agencies with funding support from the government. We see many young girls in clubs, drinking, smoking and being with older male partners of which some are married men. It is a big concern that should become the business of everyone to address.”
Population a Concern
Post Courier, 25 June 2013
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has warned that Papua New Guinea’s high population growth rate presents the government a mammoth challenge in the delivery of its infrastructure development program. “In one lifetime, our population has more than doubled, from just over two million some 30 years ago to seven million today. That is a massive increase. “Such increase places great stress on our schools, our hospitals, our law enforcement agencies, and other infrastructure.” “We have to improve what we have and build more, to accommodate the increase in our population. Or we will be stressed to breaking point,” Mr O’Neill said. The PNG population according to 2011 Census preliminary figures has reached 7,059,653. This is an increase of 1,868,867 persons compared with the 2000 figures of 5,190,786. This represents an increase of 36 percent in PNG population count since 2000.
Conversion to Islam increases
Post Courier 31 May 2013
SINCE the 9/11 US terror attacks, Papua New Guinea’s Muslim population has grown by 500 percent. This was revealed in a soon-to-be published book by Australian academic Dr Scott Flower, Conversion to Islam in Papua New Guinea. And converts believe law and order issues in PNG could be fixed by introducing Islamic law. “In PNG the law is very weak,” one convert told Dr Flower. “Killing is there, raping is there, adultery is there but they don‘t impose the laws. Under Islamic law you know everything will improve. The country will be peaceful because if somebody steals they cut off his hand. The people will know that: if I steal I will lose my hand; so the stealing will stop.” Dr Flower told Post-Courier the escalation in Muslim numbers occurred because many Papua New Guineans had “never really heard much about a different type of globalised religion – just Christianity. “So when the media on 911 focused on Islam as a religion, people thought, wow, another religion… and it must be powerful if it can make people fly planes into buildings etc.” He added: “There was also a significant increase in the number of Muslim missionaries visiting PNG toward the end of the 1990s, early 2000s.” Dr Flower estimates the current PNG Muslim population to be between 5000-5500.
The National, 3rd June 2013
A GROUP of police officers caught red-handed by their boss collecting money from motorists at a roadblock on the Highlands Highway fled down a slope for dear life. Assistant Police Commissioner (highlands) Teddy Tei was returning home from a police conference in Lae last Monday when he saw the officers from Eastern Highlands and Chimbu conducting illegal roadblocks and collecting K100 from every passing vehicle. They escaped down a slope in full uniform when confronted by Tei at about 1am. Tei said he had a mind to shoot them as they fled from the scene. “I would have fired shots at them with a view to kill such liabilities to this society. But about 30 to 40 vehicles were at the roadblock so I did not,” Tei said. He said some police officers in the Highlands region were defying the code of conduct enforced by the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary by setting up illegal roadblocks on the national highway to collect money from motorists.
Policemen charged with unlawful wounding of citizens
Post Courier 4 June, 2013
TWO policemen have been arrested and criminally charged with unlawful wounding of citizens. Their arrest follows wide media coverage of the incident which allegedly occurred on May 28 at Seven-Mile in Port Moresby. According to Police reports, the incident allegedly occurred when police units intercepted more than 70 armed men travelling by foot to 6-Mile from 8-Mile after a peace mediation over a murder case. It is alleged that policemen at the scene included the two accused ordered the men to lie face down on the ground with their hands above their heads, removed their weapons such as bush knives, bows and arrows and then began assaulting them. Following Commissioner of Police Tom Kulunga’s directive, the following actions were reported as well in other police brutality allegations. These include: * In the fan belting of a female in Port Moresby, a Senior Constable Martin Hanawi, 45 years old of Yaguabi village, Koroba, Hela Province was suspended and charged with assault; * Investigations are continuing into the baseball bat bashing of a street vendor in Port Moresby; * In the fatal shooting of the child and wounding of the mother, Police internal investigations into the matter and ballistic test taken from the pellets lodged in the mother reveal that they came from a police issued firearm used by Boroko Police; * Kimbe shooting of a male on May 18. One policeman was formally arrested and charged criminally on two counts of armed robbery and attempted murder; * Investigations are continuing into the allegations of policemen at the Gerehu police station who forced two men to strip naked and carry out indecent acts at the Gerehu Police Station.
The National, 4th June 2013
A RESEARCH into the cause of fights and cult-like groups in Lae schools reveals that the problem is deep-rooted and needs a massive effort by stakeholders to fix it. Rev Elymas Bakung heads the research into school rivalry and cult-like groupings in Lae schools funded for K35,000 by Lae MP and Minister for Community Development, Youth and Religion Loujaya Toni last year. It was carried out by Morobe students attending the PNG University of Technology. Bakung said cult-like groups in secondary schools had existed for generations with some still having connections with former members who were now parents and former students in tertiary institutions. It made the research riskier, he said. “The grouping system is very systematic and the findings have shown that their activities will not cease easily,” he said. “It will take lot of time and energy if we are to control this group system which has existed for more than 20 years and so its roots are very deep.
The National, 4th June 2013
THERE is no evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent to violent crime, a senior clergy says Catholic Archbishop of Mt Hagen Douglas Young said the government should not enact laws to enforce the death penalty if it did not have evidence. “The attorney-general noted that there had been widespread debate in the public forum but he did not indicate who had won the debate, only the decision of the government,” he said. “The one thing missing from the debate was any evidence whatsoever that the death penalty will deter violent crime. “This argument was repeated over and over again without any credible evidence in support. “This is because there is none. “Until PNG can detect, prosecute and successfully imprison offenders for the duration of their sentence then prospective criminals will assume that they have a good chance of getting away.” Meanwhile, the general secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Fr Victor Roche, said the church did not support the death penalty. “We do agree that the leaders want to put a stop to merciless killing of innocent people especially of rape, sorcery and murder. “It is true that the people of this country also want the law and order situation to be brought under control but death penalty is not the solution.”
The National, 7th June 2013
MORE than 1,000 students from the Mt Hagen Park Secondary School in Western Highlands marked World Environment Day on Wednesday by collecting rubbish in the city. They walked through the streets picking up rubbish and educating people on how to look after the environment. Students Representative Council president Kingsley Rui said they took part in the environment day because many people did not know how important the environment was to them. “We are taking part in it by cleaning the city and showing the people where rubbish is supposed be put as part of saving it,” he said. “If we look after it then it will look after us, but if we are careless then we will suffer.
Government urged to understand what causes sorcery-related crimes
The National, 06 June 2013
Much has been said and debated over sorcery-related crimes but there is little understanding of its essence in a developing country like Papua New Guinea, a church official says. Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG) Papua district youth President Dika Napkai said MPs as legislators did not fully comprehend the root cause of sorcery-related crimes. “Sorcery itself is a traditional belief and it has sub-systems that are intertwined and require not only patience but tolerance to investigate and further articulate with confidence,” she said. …She urged the government to be careful when dealing with sorcery “which in one way or the other bind the socio-political and economical values of the country”. Napkai said despite the arrival of Christianity in PNG, traditional beliefs were still rampant. “Sorcery is approaching a breakthrough, and if we can establish a dialogue on controversial issues it will be possible to gradually resolve misunderstandings and facilitate further development.”
Smoking: it’s deadly
The National, 04 June 2013
Many Papua New Guineans aged 30-69 die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases, a health official said during the World No Tobacco Day celebration on Sunday. The global youth tobacco survey in 2007 for ages 13 to 15 indicated that 47.7% of this age group use tobacco products. “Another study on smoking prevalence conducted in NCD and Manus showed children started smoking at the age of eight. Children smoking at these ages are likely to face one or more of the tobacco-related health problems in the next 10 to 15 years if not stopped now. And from the same study, 80% of these children are exposed to second-hand smoking at home and in public places. Your smoking can make someone likely to develop cancers, brain stroke, high blood pressure and many more.
Managing Crises and Capacity Building
(Comment from a participant in Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Learning Workshop in Port Moresby)
To date, no institution in PNG is offering trauma counselling courses for victims of violence or post war victims. The Police Department some years back had a diploma program arranged with the Social Work Department of University of PNG to assist police perform better handling victims and perpetrators of violence. However, in most recent years more police officers are applying for administrative courses instead and the initiative is lost for good. A study by Professor Betty Lovai – Executive Dean of Social Work UPNG pointed out that there is a disconnection between police welfare services and victims of violence. This is mainly attributed to lack of social work skills and personal conflict of interests as some police officers offering assistance are perpetrators of violence in their own homes as well. For crises management and support centre resources, Papua New Guineans are getting schooled at Fiji Crises Centre - a costly exercise. UPNG Social Work Department/Faculty does not teach specialised skills as trauma counselling and child welfare as part of the diploma/bachelor programs at present. Very few of the social work graduate students are engaged in real social work under Community Development Department or Correctional Services in PNG. To present there is nil rehabilitation programs for perpetrators of violence or desensitization programs for offenders except imprisonment. Social welfare in PNG broadly lacks specialised services as psychiatric evaluation for long- term victims of violence or habitual perpetrators of violence.
Second tranche TFF on hold
Post Courier 11 June, 2013
THE Nationwide School Survey Taskforce Chairman Paru Aihi confirms that all the schools in the country will not get the second tranche of tuition fee free money. He said the task force team is currently conducting an independent survey of all the schools and once that is completed, the schools will get the money according to the survey report. He said that the National Education System has greatly evolved from a handful of schools, teachers and students in the 1950s to what we now have, about 14,000 schools, about 46,000 teachers and about 1.3 million students nationwide, which are all guesstimates. He added that there is also doubt over the national budget appropriation because the data furnished to the government was 2011 figures when determining the 2012 and 2013 Tuition Fee Free (TFF) totalling K1.54 billion. This year,out of the K652 million TFF, the Department of Finance has released a warrant of K388 million as first trench.
The National, 11th June 2013
The use of mobile phones and social networking site Facebook are contributing to the rapidly increasing number of adultery cases, a HIV/AIDS worker said. Programme co-ordinator for People living with HIV/AIDS in Port Moresby Janet Towe has reported that lot of cases she dealt with were adultery cases fuelled by the use of mobile phones and Facebook. “We have been receiving a lot of cases with women on a daily basis reporting to us that their husbands are having extra-marital affairs with other women with the help of mobile phones and through the use of social media sites such as Facebook,” Towe said. “It is sickening because it is a daily occurrence that women are coming to us and reporting that men are doing such things that is having an increasing effect on marriage situations.” “Sometimes the men would hide the mobile numbers using another person’s name and when the call comes in they pretend to tell the wife that the phone call is from that person. This has led some men to get away with his extramarital affairs
The National, 11th June 2013
THERE has been a decrease in the number of Hela students entering Divine Word University since the PNG LNG project came into operation, a DWU student leader said. DWU Hela Student Association president Gloria Arabagali said Hela students were no longer interested in education as jobs were “right at their doorstep”. The fourth-year information technology student said DWU had fewer at the university than before the PNG LNG project started. “Hela is a new province and needs human resources to drive the province forward. We need students to enter tertiary institutions and be well educated, not become security guards, drivers or other labour jobs at the PNG LNG project site,” she said. She said 20 DWU Hela students visited two secondary schools in Hela, St Joseph Tari Secondary School in the Komo-Margarima district and Koroba Secondary School in the Lake Kutubu district to create awareness about the importance of tertiary education. “We feel sad that only three students from Hela secured a place at the university and few to other colleges in the country,” she said. Arabagali said the theme of their awareness campaign was “Empowering the growth of human resource for Hela”.
Rape incident sees daughter behead father
Post Courier 14 June
AN 18-year-old girl beheaded her father on Wednesday after he raped her inside their family home in the Dei District of Western Highlands Province. And the leaders and people of Rang and Rolna in Dei district have all agreed that the girl will not be handed over to police because the father deserved to die. Pastor Kumi said the father went to his daughter’s room in the night and reportedly raped her repeatedly. “The father wanted to rape his daughter again in the morning inside the house and that was when the young girl picked up the bush knife and chopped her father’s head off,” he said. “The people and leaders in our area went and saw the headless body of the father after the girl reported the incident to the leaders and the people and told her story of why she had killed her father.” The pastor and leaders of Rang community of Rolna said they have all agreed that the 18 year-old-girl is free to stay in the community because her father deserved to die.”
The National, 14th June 2013
SICK children at St Mary’s Vunapope Hospital in East New Britain can now enjoy facilities in a new playroom built at their ward. The playroom is known as the Pilaipilai Room and cost around K12,000 with the help of PNG Balsa. It is fully equipped with toys, books and puzzles shipped all the way from Europe, with the help of PNG Balsa community development worker Lizbeth Moneton. “The room is to help in the healing process of sick children. “It contains activity books to help occupy the children’s minds from the daily routine of needles, medication, doctors and nurses,” Moneton said.
PNGSDP splends K1.18 billion on projects over 10 years
The National, 05 June 2013
PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) has delivered 662 projects to which it has committed K1.18 billion over its 10 years of operation, chief executive David Sode said. He told an annual report meeting yesterday that PNG¬SDP had made a significant contribution to improving the life of all Papua New Guineans, especially those living in Western province. “We made a significant contribution to PNG,” he said.
Special TV show launched
The National, 11 June 2013
A new TV programme “Wheels of Change” to focus on people living with a disability was launched last Friday. Kapi Foundation chairman Brown Kapi launched the TV programme “Wheels of Change” last Friday night, which is a joint initiative of the PNG Rehabilitation Centre in NCD and Kundu 2. The one-hour TV show will cover disability issues and stories around the country, which will enable viewers to explore the world of disabled people. Kapi said: “It is a big step forward for people living with disability. For years they have been left out in almost everything and as a result they have become too dependent and tagged in society as liabilities. Disabled people today are fed up with donations and charities. They want to be included in the mainstream, being productive and active members of society.”
Anti-corruption on the front line: an interview with Sam Koim
For those on the front line, fighting corruption in Papua New Guinea can be a dangerous occupation. It wasn’t that long ago that a former Ombudsman Commissioner was shot. Sam Koim, chairman of PNG’s anti-corruption coordinating body, Taskforce Sweep, knows all about the dangers that come with the job. The office of Taskforce Sweep was targeted because of its success. It has registered over 200 cases of corruption, and recovered over 68 million PNG Kina (around $A32million). …
Visiting surgeon calls for PNG solutions to its problems PC 17 June
“We need a Papua New Guinean solution for Papua New Guinea, not an Australian solution for PNG”. A captivated audience listened attentively to visiting world renowned specialist Paediatric Urologist Professor Patrick “Paddy” Dewan’s presentation. “It is about empowering people to come up with solutions and not having for us to come back,’’ he said. During the Islands Petroleum “Katim na Halivim Pikinini” Health Project at Vunapope General Hospital in ENB, a total of 120 children were screened out of which 60 were selected for doctors to see but they ended up seeing 80 because many more showed up. Thirty-three were hospitalised and only 14 had surgeries done. These cases will be managed by general practitioners or doctors on the ground. Training was a big focus as well to make the Papua New Guinean solution come true. Last Saturday night’s corporate dinner fundraised K40,000 towards the efforts to purchase an x-ray processor and a ventilator for children. Prof Paddy has done a total of 2281 operations in 22 countries.
PNG blogs June 19, 2013
Millions of dollars allegedly corruptly obtained from the PNG government have been siphoned to Australian banks, confidential banking documents reveal. Fairfax Media has also confirmed that Australian bank NAB recently increased its due diligence on some money transfers from PNG due to corruption concerns.Fairfax Media has obtained documents that show the leading lawyer named in the PNG Parliament as one of the architects of the alleged corruption scheme, Paul Paraka, has been regularly transferring large sums of money to several contacts on the Gold Coast and in NSW.
On one day in October last year, a bank account linked to Mr Paraka wired about $80,000 in three transactions to his Australian-based wives and girlfriends, including one who lives in Sydney's Star City casino complex. Between February 2012 and February this year, almost $3 million was transferred to Australia from bank accounts linked to Mr Paraka. PNG investigators believe most of these funds were corruptly obtained. The ability of Mr Paraka - who denies any wrongdoing - to transfer suspicious amounts of money raises questions about what Australian banks, the federal police and the anti-money-laundering agency, Austrac, are doing to block or investigate dirty money.
The National, June 20th, 2013
A WOMAN who sent obscene text messages to another has been fined K500 and warned by the court that it was a serious offence punishable by a K20,000 fine or jail term. Lae magistrate Sasa Inkung also fined Wendy Tsirum, from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, K100 – to be paid as compensation to the complainant Nancy Sinclair – for the obscenities she had received. Inkung told the court that under the new communications legislation, people who sent obscene messages to others or swore on the phone could face a fine of up to K20,000 or go to jail. “You don’t have this money so I will fine you K500,” he told Tsirum and warned her not to repeat it. The court heard that on May 29, around 8pm, Tsirum, who resides at Seventh Street in Lae, texted a number of obscene messages to Sinclair. She suspected Sinclair of having an affair with her husband. One of the text messages read by the prosecutor said: “Yu pamuk, noken ring ken lo dispel fone (You whore, don’t call this phone again).” Tsirum admitted that she sent the text to Sinclair because she saw her number on the phone which her husband had been using.
Tuberculosis getting worse in PNG
Post Courier, 21 June
PAPUA New Guinea has been described as one of the world’s worst places for tuberculosis infection. “One of the things that fuel TB everywhere is a weakened health system, poverty, vulnerable people and I think that is the driving factor,” a specialist with the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Dr Suman Majumdar said. Dr McBryde spent two weeks in Western Province in September last year, to assess TB rates. She said not only are there vast numbers of tuberculosis specific beds in every hospital but almost every bed was taken up by patients who had TB or were suspected of TB or were very likely to have TB. Worst still, is the emergence of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) which does not respond to the two most powerful anti-TB medications.
WHO: Not enough blood supply to meet demand
The National, 17 June 2013
Papua New Guinea continues to have inadequate blood supply to meet patient demands, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). There are 35 blood banks in the country and according to WHO standards; countries need to produce about 150,000 units of blood per annum to adequately supply the blood demand. However, the Department of Health’s National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) collects only 30,000 units of blood, which amounts to only 20% of the demand. Out of the 30, 000 units collected, 55% are from volunteers while the other 45% are family replacement donors. WHO’s goal for all countries is to obtain all their blood supplies from 100% voluntarily unpaid donors by 2020.
Brain Drain: PNG continues to lose its best and brightest.
PNG Blogs 27 June 13
PAPUA New Guinea’s best and brightest elites are decamping to Australia and around the world, taking with them ready-made skills and talents and as it seems they have the best prerequisites for success internationally working in the resource industry. PNG economist and respected author Tiri Kuimbakul also said it was an unfortunate situation for PNG when its valuable workforce migrate like this but added that conditions back home will continue to see more people leave the country.
Mr. Kuimbakul said as long as development and progress is at a snail’s pace and living conditions are the way they are despite the country being filthy rich, PNG will continue to lose its well trained and educated human resource. “If you are highly educated, skilled and well experienced but don’t know anyone in the system, you will be passed over for a job you are more than qualified for. This is especially so in the public (government) sector, but sadly many in the private sector also practice it. So again, we cannot blame people for living in countries where jobs are given not on the basis of ‘who you know’ but of ‘what you know and can contribute,” Mr. Kuimbakul said.
The National, June 25th, 2013
EASTERN Highlands police have arrested and charged a woman with alleged defamatory posting of false information on the social media network, Facebook. Provincial police commander Supt John Kale said the Facebook post accused the Goroka police task force unit of selling a stolen vehicle. The female suspect from a village outside Goroka is scheduled to appear at the Goroka court tomorrow charged with spreading false information under the Summary Offences Act. Kale alleged that the woman had posted information accusing the Goroka police task force unit of having sold a recovered stolen a vehicle. The woman was allowed K500 bail. Kale said the Goroka police task force unit recovered eight stolen vehicles last year and four this year. All of them were returned to their rightful owners, he said. Kale said users who commented on the information “will be arrested as most of them are known”. He said the rumour spread on Facebook was “completely false”. He called on Facebook users to be conscious and wary of what they posted as the messages could be read worldwide.
The National, June 25th, 2013
PARENTS must escort their children to school and pick them up after school, Morobe provincial police commander Leo Lamei said yesterday. Supt Lamei said that following an increase in the number of sexual assault cases committed against school girls below the age of 16. Lamei said on April 23, a 12-year-old school girl was abducted and raped by a 19-year-old suspect in Kaindi, Wau. The girl had been on her way home after school, police said. In a separate incident, Lamei said a 10-year-old school girl was abducted and raped in a similar manner by another suspect at a Hidden Valley Mine access road at Kaindi. The victim was heading home after school when she was attacked. On March 4, Lamei said a seven-year-old Bumayong Elementary School girl was abducted and raped by a 31-year-old man. She had been on her way to school at the time. “Mothers and some other relatives must make it their business to drop-off and pick up girls at schools,” Lamei said. “Sexual crimes against minors have increased lately. There are sick-minded and animal thinking people out there ready to prey on little girls,” he said.
Combatting family and sexual violence in PNG
Written by Ume Wainetti on June 7, 2013
Family and sexual violence is a crisis facing the women and children of Papua New Guinea. Recent data shows that 50% of Papua New Guinean women have been raped in their own homes and 68% of women have been subjected to physical violence. The Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) was established in 2000. This was because the women of Papua New Guinea were saying, when the country was celebrating independence, that we had nothing to celebrate. We were being beaten, raped and murdered. So we decided that there should be a peak body established to reduce the violence that we see in our country. The committee involves various sectors, with 81 member organisations. Through this network, we have also established committees in the provinces.
Why do we call this problem ‘family and sexual violence’ when we could just say it is gender-based? Because when we talk about gender-based violence, we mostly see this as intimate partner violence. It lets the other violence that is seen in our families fall through the cracks–when our brothers beat us up or kill us, where we are beaten by fathers for falling pregnant to men they don’t approve of, honour killings. Incest is a traditional practice allowed in our matrilineal societies to retain land by the brother’s family. None of this is reported to the police. This is why we say family violence. And when we are talking about combatting family and sexual violence, we are also talking about changing our own way of life (for example, the practice of incest in matrilineal societies). Men are expected to have control over their women and it is accepted that a man should correct his wife or sister to conform to the expectation of the community. In PNG community rights are more important than women’s rights and hence we see many times women agreeing to do things that would violate their rights. For instance, a woman will keep quiet about sexual abuse because she does not want to see her family hurt.
How do we help to change women’s minds/attitudes so they do not think it is OK for their husbands, brothers and fathers to beat, rape and even murder them?
Often you will see even our highly educated women continue to live their lives through their husbands, with everything being about him. But tomorrow, if he walks out, he will leave her with nothing. Many times we make excuses for the violence that we see, blaming it on culture or alcohol and drugs. So our own understanding of domestic violence is confused, and we continue to accept living like this. From what we see, the age group that is witnessing the most sexual violence–whether it is gang rape, rape in the home, or rape by a father or step-father–are those between the ages of five and 19.
We are now working on the Family Protection Bill. We hope it will go through so that we can actually take those causing violence within families to court and have them charged for an offence under the term domestic violence. Some people ask me why we haven’t mobilised and protested as a nation of women, like what has happened in India. In a nation of 800 languages, how can we do that? Even if we send out written information or go on TV or radio, not everybody listens and 68% of our women are illiterate. So how can we reach them?
We need more facilities to help women and families. We can’t just look to developed countries for example, we need to look at what we can offer ourselves. Right now, we have established Family Support Centres (FSCs) where battered women and children can go for immediate medical treatment and psychosocial support. There are now about 15 of these centres in the country and we have seen around 12,000 women come through them in six years. But this only counts those who are willing to come, and these centres are not available everywhere. We have safe houses (Meri Safe Houses), but there are only two in Port Moresby and they can take up to ten women. There is one in Alotau that can take four women, while in Lae, there is room for one woman only. With all the problems we are seeing, we do not have enough services. Another thing that we urgently need is to establish services for men.
Viewpoint: Death Penalty – Versus the Well-being of our People
Sr. Maryanne Kolkia RSM On behalf of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea
Parliamentarians are duly elected to represent 7.1 million people in this developing country, Papua New Guinea, to govern and to lead. The government of the day does have the power to amend existing laws and to make new laws for the best interest of the people, the resources of the country and the environment. It is sad to see many innocent people becoming victims of many kinds of violence within our society. Violence at this alarming rate is a symptom and a signal that sends a message that needs urgent attention and response at all levels of society.
On Tuesday, 28th May, 2013 the Parliament of Papua New Guinea passed laws allowing execution by a range of methods, including hanging, electrocution, lethal injection and firing squad. This raises questions in the minds of many people, as to the effectiveness of this kind of violent response in bringing about a lessening of violence in our society. Some other questions that come to mind:
Is an individual’s right to life as protected by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights being respected by this law?
Is the Death Penalty breaching the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution, the five National goals and directives of PNG?
What went wrong in the last 36 years of Independence for the government to come up with such tough law for its citizens?
What does “democratic country” mean? How widely did the government consult with the people before passing this law?
The Death Penalty is talking about you and your life, your family and your future generation. How does it feel for you as a citizen when you were not invited to participate in the decision making?
Where is our moral support for those who most need us? This includes all victims of violence, our young people as they grow into adulthood and even those who resort to violence themselves. The passing of the Death Penalty by the current government on 28th May 2013 is a massive challenge in history for the country, the government and its people. We need to look again at the country’s development record, such official documents as the PNG Vision 2050, the PNG Development Strategy 2010-2030, a report published by the National Research Institute titled “Papua New Guinea Development Performance 1975-2008”as well as reports published by various donor agencies and the International organisations such as World Bank, the United Nations and Transparency International. Eight basic development indicators taken from the above sources call everyone to wholeheartedly take action: response is needed from the government, bureaucrats and responsible citizens from all walks of life.
The Infant Mortality Rate, which shows the number of infants who die before the first birthday out of every 1,000 babies born in the country in a year, is 57. Infant mortality in Fiji is 18 per 1,000 births, and the whole of East Asia and the Pacific is 31.
The Maternal Mortality Rate is 733 per 100,000. This means that 733 women die out of every 100,000 women during child birth in PNG. This is four times higher than the countries in the Pacific.
PNG’s life expectancy at birth is 57 years. This compares with the average of 67 years in developing countries and the 72 years for East Asia and the Pacific. People in neighbouring countries live longer than Papua New Guineans.
Only 57% of the adults are literate. This compares with 93% in East Asia and Pacific region and 82% in the world. More people cannot read and write in PNG than anywhere else in the world.
Unemployment is very high. Only 500,000 people (13%) hold paid jobs out of a working-age population of some 3.8 million. The implicit level of unemployment is 87%.
School drop- out rate at grades Grade 8, 10 and 12 are 50%, 80% and 70% respectively. This means only half of Grade 8 students go on to Grade 9: 20% of Grade 10s go to Grade 11: and 30% of Grade 12s get accepted to tertiary institutions. The main reason for the very high dropout rates is lack of facilities and the spaces in Educational Institutions.
The Human Development Index (HDI) is a measure used by the United Nations to assess countries in three areas of human development - life expectancy, adult literacy, and school enrolment. It also takes into account people’s standard of living as measured by the gross national product per capita. In 2010 PNG was ranked 137 out of 169 countries, making it the 33rd least developed country in the world.
The proportion of the population living below the international poverty line of US$1.00 per day (or approximately K1, 000 per year) was 40% in 2010. Estimates in 1996 and 2006 respectively were 25% and 37%, meaning that an increasing proportion of the population has been progressively becoming poorer.
PNG is a rich country full of poor people. When people are smart, wise, fair, and healthy and have a happy society, there will be no death penalty in this country.
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