Archbishop Douglas Young SVD of Mount Hagen: find something better than death penalty
26 APR 2013. The Minister for Community Development, Hon. Loujaya Tony, reminded women at the recent opening of the National Council of Women in Mount Hagen, that every man who turns out to be a rapist, or abuser, or murderer is some mother’s son. She challenged the women to evaluate their child rearing practices as to whether they were in fact teaching boys, and modeling to them, that violence could be a solution to problems and a legitimate way of expressing frustration. Of course there is more to it than that, but the model of problem solving and anger management that parents give is clearly a big part of the problem.
I thought of this comment in the midst of the nation’s current trauma in the face of violence, especially violence against women, now very widespread and serious.
The kneejerk reaction of many, apparently even the Attorney General, is to call for the death penalty. Is this not the same thing that Ms Loujaya warned against? Will the nation itself model to young men that if someone is bothering them, the best remedy is to simply kill them? It is already well known that the death penalty is not a deterrent to violent crime. Those who commit these offenses do not believe that they will be caught and even less be
actually sentenced. The major deterrent to crime is not the severity of punishment but its certainty. Talk of the death penalty is giving in to the same vengeful streak in PNG culture that is part of our current problem.
What has to happen? Support programs that will help young men to find employment, identity, and satisfaction in life. Strengthen police capacity to find, arrest and prosecute offenders. Give the clear message, if you do this you will be caught and you will be punished. Change cultural norms that encourage the protection of offenders. Let’s turn our attention to policies that will genuinely address the plague of violence in PNG, not those that serve only to further brutalize the nation.
Douglas W. Young, SVD
Archbishop of Mount Hagen