Taking responsibility: A solution to violence against women

By PNG Echo

stop-violence-against-women-papua-new-guinea-978x500The very first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one. Judging by these recent responses, Papua New Guinea still has some way to go – but it’s not hopeless – there is a way.


Excuses, excuses, excuses.




Human Rights Watch has called PNG “one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman or girl”.




Response: Susan do you know that in USA 3 underage girls are raped every day but not reported. Australia and Europe are no different. PNG is so small that it gets all attention without comparative analysis.

VERDICT: Misery loves company.  

In the matter of violence against women PNGs misery has plenty of company. It was told to me by a friend, recently in China, that domestic violence there runs at 25% – and as a result the government has just passed a law to protect women (and those statistics are only around a third of the incidence in PNG).

But I’m sure it makes perpetrators feel better that they are not alone in the world; that maybe they are not perverts and that their behaviour is mitigated by others equally aberrant behaviour.

How convincing is this argument to the woman who’s had her fingers chopped off; to the baby that has been raped; to the young mother who endured days of horrific torture before being burned alive – what comfort is it to her that she’s in good company?
And what does this response solve?



Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has recently come out with a study that says that of the victims of sexual violence that they treated in their clinics at Tari and Port Moresby, 56 per cent were children, and 17 per cent of those were under five years old.

Response: Tari (Hela) have a very strong cultural bondage to date and I am 200% sure they will never harm/hurt a child so as most of the highlands areas. The incidents must be form[sic]Pom.

VERDICT: Denial.

When all else fails, resort to regionalism whereas it’s a Papua New Guinean problem. Besides, at one point, a few years ago, MSF abandoned the aid station at Tari because it was so dangerous – and this is an organisation whose main thrust is in war-torn areas – what does that tell you?
And what does this response solve?


pacific women against violence

The statistics are shocking; the reality of the recent statistics from MSF (who are operating from the coalface in Tari and Port Moresby) is that 269 babies under the age of five years old were raped or sexually assaulted.



Response: Inaccurate statistics making it a problem. I am more interested in the data collection and reporting that is being biased…  There wouldn’t be any problem if the statistics were accurate

VERDICT: Oh really? This is more denial.

It’s easier to attack the statistics than admit there is a problem and tackle it instead. In PNG if the statistics are only even 50% accurate there’s still a considerable problem – and most people think that statistics – especially ones from years ago (like the 70% domestic violence) are more likely to be an underestimation – not the other way around.
Anyway, what does this response solve?


Traditional PNG
Traditional PNG – if violence against women was not a traditional problem – it is now.



What is the answer, how do we tackle this problem?




Response: This is the process of your [this writer’s] introduced corrupted system. PNG never had this 100 years ago. You look at your history. You were once a primitive.

VERDICT: Scapegoating.

Apportioning blame is more important than finding a solution.
Again: what does this response solve?



These men call their gang ÒDirty Dons 585Ó and admit to rapes and armed robberies in the Port Moresby area. They say two-thirds of their victims are women.
These men admit to rapes and armed robberies in the Port Moresby area…two-thirds of their victims are women.

The simple answer to this problem would be for the perpetrators to just stop – but, in reality, that’s not going to happen readily. The perpetrators (and that’s certainly not all PNG men) are not going to give up up this easy means of control and this outward display of power without a powerful incentive.

For some, it has come to define their manhood – amply aided by the adoption of a retributive and unintended form of Christianity that sanctions their aberrant tendencies.

Men want a solution too - they need to be shown how.
Men want a solution too – they need to be shown how.


Women have had enough of constantly living with the threat of violence and most good PNG men want to see a solution too – they also fear for their wives, daughters and sisters.

Most good Papua New Guinean men find the situation in PNG shameful both nationally and internationally.  It’s because some PNG men rape and beat women and children that all PNG men bear the stigma

And while there are certainly causal factors, at present, it is more urgent to treat the symptoms – to keep the patient alive – before addressing the underlying disease.  In fact it’s vital.

What is needed is a progressive, proactive and reactive government to take the lead – there is no viable alternative.

Good upstanding men are looking for leadership.
Good upstanding men are looking for leadership.

Neither the women nor the upstanding men of Papua New Guinea know how to tackle this problem (which is not the same as not wanting it tackled.) They are looking for a way – they are looking for leadership – a government prepared to do this, will surely reap the benefits.

Would I vote for such a government? – You betcha. Would you?

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