The journalist, the Human Rights’ Commissioner, the Prime Minister and the abuses.

By PNG Echo

It is, by now, well known that, last weekend, this journalist was refused entry into Papua New Guinea (PNG) by order of the Prime Minister.

The journalist joins the festivities during her cameo appearance in PNG on the weekend. Some PNG politicians are championing change to provide a safe and clean environment for women and all people in PNG – just not the Prime Minister.

It was heavy handed, provocative and ultimately an exercise in futility.

May I remind the Prime Minister that there have been very successful revolutions enacted remotely – the Ayotollah Khomeini effected the Iranian revolution from enforced exile in Paris, for instance.


In PNG, political revolution is not called for – the government was democratically elected and ought to be free to do its job. It’s the fact that this government is not doing that job; that it is falling down badly in some areas of concern affecting the human rights of half its population.

The ill-fortune of women in PNG will not change (and it surely must) until there is effective political leadership with a Prime Minister who’s committed to the cause instead of one that merely gives the problem lip service. (see: the article likely to have caused the chagrin that led to my refusal of entry to PNG.)

And it’s not only me that has noticed: In this year of the hosting of APEC by Papua New Guinea – the UN has been scathing.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In a recent visit to PNG, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, tore strips off the record of PNG in this area.

Yet, in a bizarre statement purportedly released before the High Commissioner’s visit Mr O’Neill stated in a confident, self-congratulatory manner that:

The observations of the High Commissioner are comforting [my emphasis] as this government has made a concerted effort to engage with all stakeholders, particularly civil society.

Had he misunderstood? The High Commissioner was highly critical of the PNG government’s record on engaging with civil society and while acknowledging a strong civil society lamented that :

“…there is little room for them to influence government policy.”

I am at a loss to understand what the Prime Minister found “comforting” in those words.

Furthermore, Mr Zeid went on to state that he was “troubled” to hear of the attacks against journalists (and others) working on sensitive issues. I wonder if he realized that one of those “attacks” would come as a direct order of the Prime Minister himself?

To add insult to the Prime Minister’s injury, the Commissioner’s visit and my criticism of his record in women’s issues coincides with a report from “Human Rights Watch’ whose opening paragraph states:

Almost 40 percent of the population in Papua New Guinea (PNG) lives in poverty. The government has not taken sufficient step to address gender equality, violence, excessive use of force by police, or corruption and relies heavily on religious groups and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to provide services on a charitable basis to meet the economic and social rights of the population. Rates of family and sexual violence are among the highest in the world, and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.”[my emphasis]

Expensive buildings erected to host APEC

The report also serves as a reminder that Australia is PNG’s most important international partner and provides over 70 percent of the country’s overseas development aid. Indeed, PNG is currently relying heavily on help from Australia to pull off a successful APEC – to make PNG look good in the eyes of the international community.

As an Australian rate payer, it is my hard-earned dollars (and many others) that will help PNG pretend that things are rosie – when all the while many PNG women are existing in what can only be described as a living hell – where fear is their constant companion.

It’s where husbands are compensated for the rape of their wives (as if someone has spoilt their possession) before the shamed (?) husband discards her to her own meagre and miserable fate – welfare is not a word with which the PNG government is familiar.

Yemeni women feed their malnourished children.

Indeed, the UN High Commissioner noted that the malnutrition rates in some areas of PNG were “comparable to Yemen.” – the poorest country in the war-torn Middle East. The UN has reported that Yemen is the country most in need of humanitarian aid in the world.

What a shameful comparison for PNG with its plethora of resources and my tax dollars at its disposal.

Under the circumstances, you’ll understand why I’d prefer not to contribute to Mr O’Neill’s vainglorious grandstanding.


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Weasel words from the Tin Man: The Prime Minister’s response to the torture of a 6yr old girl.

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, presides over a country where, according to Médecins Sans Frontières, the women are the most abused in the world outside of a conflict zone and where they “…endure some of the most extreme levels of violence in the world,” according to the Lowy Institute. (Reported in an article published in The National by journalist Grace Maribu.) Over this humanitarian crisis the Prime Minister expresses his “outrage” – but does little.

When the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea finally came out with a press statement on the recent torture of a six-year-old girl over four days at the hands of a baying, adult male mob, it was with ‘weasel words’.

Weasel words are words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that a specific or meaningful statement has been made, when instead only a vague or ambiguous claim has actually been communicated.


In the statement, he called for “Community and Church action…,” rather than his own; he condemned the attack and the attackers (whom he called a few names) and thanked the people (not him) that took decisive action to save the small girl.

He also condemned the practise of Sanguma, praised Christianity and the good Samaritans that helped save the girl and promised to keep doing what he’s been doing – working with the churches and communities as well as the RPNGC “…to end these false beliefs and to protect the lives of all Papua New Guineans.”

But why would he continue doing what he’s doing when, in the NCD (Port Moresby and surrounds) only two convictions have resulted from the 414 cases handled by the Family Sexual Violence Action Committee Secretariat between 2016 and 2017? This is in spite of legislation enacted in 2013 that was meant to protect women and girls against violence? (The Family Protection Act)

Indeed, since 2013, violence has just escalated both generally – gender-based violence (ie men beating and killing women) – and specifically – accusation-based violence (involving supposed witches) even though 2013 not only saw this legislation enacted but also the PNG Sorcery Act repealed.

The crowd watched as they burned, young mother Kepari Leniata alive.

It’s no coincidence that this was also the year that the mother of the tortured child, Kepari Leniata was herself tortured and burned alive as a witch. The incidents are linked.


Clearly, the response was inadequate.

There’s absolutely no point in providing a recipe if there are neither the requisite cooks nor the ingredients available to bake a cake (ie – to effect an outcome). Peter O’Neill either knew that or should have.

In spite of the Prime Ministers expressed condemnation at that time, the perpetrators of the murder of Kepari have never been brought to justice – had they been perhaps this little girl would not now be in bandages from her neck to her ankles. Violence against women is a low-risk crime in Papua New Guinea. Whose fault is that?

I mean, if the definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome then Peter O’Neill must be mad – but I don’t think so.

In PNG, it is men who win elections for their candidates and although women can vote, they usually vote as their menfolk dictate. A consummate politician, Peter O’Neill knows that. The right to beat women is enshrined in the psyche of many PNG men, especially in the Highlands, where the Prime Minister’s constituency is located. Clearly, it is not good politics to antagonise one’s electoral base.

If we were in that mythical land of Oz, Peter O’Neill wouldn’t be the character without a brain: the Scarecrow, – his lukewarm response is patently politically shrewd. No, he’d be the Tin Man: the one without a heart.


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The (not so) mysterious death of Rosalyn Albaniel Evara.

By PNG Echo


As an Australian tax-payer, I object to my hard-earned tax dollars going to a foreign government that tacitly condones the wholesale abuse of half of their population – and then does it with my money.

It is time that international sanctions were applied to Papua New Guinea – time to hit them where it will hurt – in the money pocket.  The international community need to express their disgust at the ongoing human rights abuses in PNG – we (the international community) can stop this, even if they won’t.

Let’s make this stop at Rosalyn Albaniel.

Her story:

She died suddenly. People were shocked.

“But I only just saw her yesterday,” and “I was to meet with her Monday,” they wrote incredulously.

For all intents and purposes, for the Senior Business Journalist with one of Papua New Guinea’s leading newspapers, Post Courier, it was ‘business as usual…until she died, that is.

There were outpourings of grief on social media and no doubt many more in the physical world. If there’s one thing that Papua New Guineans do well it is expressing their grief.

“Nooooo – it cannot be true,”
“Why did you leave us so soon?”
they write on social media in the case of loss. And at funerals, even men are heard (expected, even) to wail and cry out “Why, Lord?”

But the shocking truth is, that they had no need to ask “why,” they knew the answer – but they weren’t telling.

Rosalyn Albaniel Evara had been suffering ongoing physical abuse. Her husband often beat her senseless.

The injuries that she sustained are the probable cause of a suspected brain haemorrhage that killed her.


The ongoing beatings would take place within the gated accommodation compound of the employees of Post Courier. I once went to this complex in Port Moresby to drop off a colleague (a Post Courier journalist), who lived there. Whilst I never went inside the building, my impressions of the complex were that it looked like a block of cheap motel units of flimsy construction.

Living cheek by jowl with your co-workers in this way would not offer much in the way of privacy – and it didn’t. All witnessed the beatings that Rosalyn endured – if not by sight, certainly they would have heard them.

Some of her co-workers would take her in after she had been beaten and patch her up – supplying tea and sympathy.  Rosalyn begged them not to report her husband’s assaults to the police, as she was afraid for her daughter.  And they didn’t.  But they all knew.

Her beatings were a likely cause of her death – and they all knew.

In the wake of her passing, not one word was reported by the Post Courier about the circumstances surrounding her death – yet they all knew.

They attended her funeral yesterday, they sat there and grieved for her, yet they did not utter a word of what they knew.  Amongst the grievers would have been her husband.  They sat beside him even though they knew what he’d done.

It took a brave lady, Rosalyn’s aunt, Mary Albaniel, to tell all.  She chose to tell it at the funeral. It was a tale of sustained abuse and beatings leading to her niece’s death.

Mary Albaniel also had post mortem pictures she had taken of her niece’s body – and she showed these too. Rosalyn’s body was covered with the evidence of her husband’s abuse.

Yet with her bruised and battered body, Rosalyn turned up for work each day and performed her journalistic duties on behalf of Post Courier, her employer her clothes hiding most of the evidence of her abuse

Everyone considered Rosalyn Albaniel a good journalist who never failed in her duties to Post Courier – however, as a media outlet wedded to the idea of ‘the fourth estate’ whereby the media are tasked with a duty to expose wrongdoing, Post Courier surely failed Rosalyn.

Why wasn’t the perpetrator stopped (even if he wasn’t formally charged)?

Tea and sympathy for the victim before she’s sent packing back to her tormentor for more of the same, just doesn’t cut it.

Yet, the fault for her death must surely lie with the person who caused it – and that wasn’t her colleagues at Post Courier. But it could have been her husband.

Post Courier employees and others who knew were merely upholding a sick tradition that has emerged in PNG society whereby violence against women has become normalised and where very few men are ever prosecuted for violence perpetrated on women – especially ones deemed to ‘belong’ to the men through an intimate relationship or those that are said to be witches (yes, you heard right – they still burn witches alive in PNG). However, truth be told, women are fair game for men in most circumstances and age is no barrier.

The sick tradition

When Rosalyn’s Aunty Mary exposed what Post Courier should have at her niece’s funeral, she was wearing an orange T Shirt that said “No to violence against women.”

It was the T Shirt that we wore when we demonstrated against gender-based violence in Port Moresby on 16 December 2016.  It was, we thought, a landmark day.

Together with the Governor of the National Capital District (wherein Port Moresby resides) Powes Parkop, who is arguably the sole champion of the cause in the PNG parliament, we managed to put enough pressure on the PNG government that the National Executive Council (PNGs caucus) passed a strategy for combating violence against women that had been languishing in a government department for over 15 months. The irony of that situation was that the negligent minister overseeing that department was one of only three women in the PNG parliament at the time (there are none in this current line up).

The catalyst for the demonstration was a breathtakingly violent incident in the Highlands of PNG.

There was a report of a young woman suspected of cheating on her husband for which her husband sought revenge.  He arrived in her village with up to six of his friends and family and they chopped off both her legs with bush knives (machetes) that men habitually like to carry – a bit like Americans like to carry their guns.

I don’t know whether she survived or whether anything was done to those who committed this act because neither matter a damn in Papua New Guinea.  She was a woman, and one suspected of being wanton – she got what she’d deserved.  As for the men, well, they had every right, didn’t they? That’s the PNG attitude.

It is what enabled Rosalyn’s colleagues to turn a blind eye to her habitual, and clearly savage beatings – even though they are media and are expressly meant to do the opposite.  The sick tradition of condoning or ignoring violence against women prevailed.

Since that fateful day last December, not much has changed. Apparently, implementing government strategies take time – and time is something that the PNG parliament seems to have plenty of. Unfortunately time ran out for Rosalyn.

Rest in peace, my esteemed colleague, this journalist is aware of her obligations.

In the final analysis

The female half of the population of PNG are placed in such low esteem that no one cares when she is brutalized.

It is a national emergency treated by the government as a second or third tier priority, if indeed a priority at all or one which deserves more than lip service.  People have given up expecting that anything can or will be any different; that anything will change.

But they are wrong.  It must be changed.  It’s an abomination that needs resources thrown at it.

Yet the PNG government are blazé because there are no votes in it for them and government in PNG is all about hanging onto power.  Besides, many in parliament would have a problem casting the first stone for the reason that one survey (disputed) found that 70% of PNGeans beat their wives. That would make 78 out of 111 MPs potentially wife beaters themselves.

It is time the PNG government was given an urgent imperative to tackle this problem as their priority. To shake them awake from their smug reverie that it’s not their problem because they are men.  Let’s do it.


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When legal pragmatism wins over justice: A case analysis

By PNG Echo

This is the second in the series about violence against women in PNG. It was my intention to just tell the stories in all their horrific detail … alas, although I consider myself a storyteller, sometimes the academic in me will not be still. An analysis of the case outlined below is instructive on some of the problems that women face in PNG when looking for justice. Within that problem also lies the solution (or at least a part thereof.)   Read on:

The story:

Judge Manuhu, well-meaning but wrong.

A potential client went to see a young lawyer to complain that her husband was adulterous and wanted to take another wife. While I’m not sure with what she wanted him charged, the young lawyer did consider her case was clearly winnable.

Now, I know adultery is still on the statute books in PNG and I’m not sure about the polygamy laws and/or customs in the province in which she was residing at the time. It’s a fair assumption, though, that she wanted to stop her husband taking another wife.

Notwithstanding that she had a winnable case, this young lawyer dissuaded her from taking court action because winning in court would not stop her husband from beating her (a new piece of vital information) and there were the children to consider, he told her.

What a damning indictment of the efficacy of justice in PNG accompanied by an acceptance of a sick status quo.

Instead he gave her enough money to return to her home province but stipulated it must be alone and without taking any belongings or any of her children. Clearly this put her out of her husband’s reach. Problem solved?

No, no, no – it just exacerbated and further entrenched the customs of an unfair and unsafe society for women.

This lawyer’s solution represents pragmatism over justice and punishes the victim. I’m sure the young lawyer was well-meaning, BUT HE WAS WRONG.

The trouble is, this young lawyer grew up to become Justice George Manuhu of the National and Supreme Courts of Papua New Guinea and the learned judge has recently told this story to a public audience of thousands (available to millions) espousing the wisdom of the decision and exhorting others to take notice. With no juries in PNG, he now sits in sole judgment (in the first instance) on similar cases.

Why was he wrong?

  1. He was wrong because he knew that the wife was living with a violent man – yet he focussed on the victim rather than the perpetrator.
  2. She was the one punished by being banished, penniless, in the clothes she stood up in, back to her home province – yet she was the victim.
  3. He irresponsibly aided her to leave her children with a man he knew to be violent – what’s more, children whose mother abandons them suffer enormously – how would they know, at the time, that she had little choice?
  4. It was ignored that it left a miscreant living in the community who would possibly continue his violent ways because his illegal behaviour was never challenged – and it should have been – and by Manuhu. Removing the victim does nothing to curb the behaviour of the perpetrator who, in all probability, will just find another victim.

It was this lawyer’s job to prosecute alleged felons, not to find solutions that let off the offender scot free while penalising the victim. Perhaps he could have given her that one-way fare AFTER the courts had suitably punished the behaviour of the perpetrator, did he think of that?

It brings up the problem of the reluctance of anyone in PNG to tackle the problem of male perpetrated violence against females – or to even acknowledge it exists – except in the abstract. (I know, it is not the only problem that exists with violence but it is the predominant one and the one we are tackling here.)

The solution is for men to stop. It’s simple, really. Except who is going to make them?

When we have a system, in the main administered by men, (where are those women parliamentarians?) most of whom do their own share of wife-beating, according to recorded statistics, who’s going to stand up and point a finger and/or make a stand?

If the statistic of 70% (disputed, I know) is anywhere near the actuality, then we have around 78 parliamentarians who are perpetrators – and why would the judiciary be immune?

Apparently, the story has a happy ending for her: but the end does not justify the means and I find it alarming that the people who commented on the Jjudge’s post, to a wo/man, agreed with him. They were admiring – gushing even. No one had the wherewithal and the insight to say, “no, in this instance, you did not do well.”

Instead they said his story was:

“…the Manus way”
“…the ideal way to go”

and my all time favourite – which illustrates my next point perfectly

“…a worthy lesson for a lot of womenfolk.”

The lesson that I took away from the story is that the courts in PNG are all but useless to protect a woman that’s being brutalised and, in fact, they would prefer not to have to bother themselves with such a thing. Prosecuting a man on behalf of a woman would be anathema to many PNGeans – the women should take responsibility themselves (it’s probably their own fault).

I’m not at all surprised that commenters were sycophantic to Justice Manuhu. He is considered a PNG ‘Bik Man’ and the wisdom of a Bik Man is not to be questioned, just marvelled at.

With this one story, Justice Manuhu has set back the cause of beaten women in PNG and further entrenched the paradigms that keep her bruised and subdued.

Yet the perpetrator carried absolutely no responsibility – and that includes an obligation to obey the law – assault is against the law in PNG – yes, even assault on a woman (pardon my sarcasm – it’s hard to contain when I’m utterly disgusted).

Solution within the problem

How much more useful would it have been had the learned judge said something about the evil’s of bashing women? How much more useful if he had roundly condemned the man’s behaviour and said that the courts would not tolerate the flagrant breaking of the laws of the land? How much more useful would it have been if he had talked about zero tolerance in his court for perpetrators of violence against women – that should these miscreants be before him, that he’d throw the book at them? But did he? No he did not.

You ‘Bik Men’ know your word is gospel to those who look up to you – use it to solve the biggest problem you have in PNG today – or can we assume that you are part of the problem: a perpetrator yourself?

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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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Blood of your blood: The enemy within

By PNG Echo

There is a humanitarian crisis in the Pacific…well there’s more than one… but it’s not with the plight of the West Papuan people that this article is concerned. This article is about the violence against women in Papua New Guinea.

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 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.

A recent article in the Brisbane Courier (and replicated around Australia) reported many instances of gut-churning abuse in Papua New Guinea where the perpetrators proudly boasted and showed off their brutality – Including the gang on the left.

It ended with a video of a young mother who had sought refuge in a ‘safe house’ after the physical abuse from her husband culminated in the husband’s rape of their 3-month-old baby.

It’s not pretty – but neither are the abuses in West Papua.

Inherent in the West Papuan crisis are both differences and similarities.

So, is there a reason why the West Papua struggle is becoming a cause célèbre whereas, in the main, apathy is the reaction to the horrific violence against women in Papua New Guinea? Continue reading Blood of your blood: The enemy within

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Stopping violence against women in PNG: A moral and ethical dilemma

The rapidity of the recurrence is breathtaking – the extreme nature of the violence difficult to comprehend. Perhaps now is not the time for political correctness and western sensibilities, writes PNG Echo

A scant couple of weeks after pictures were published on social media of a woman who was disemboweled after purportedly being gang raped by males invited to do so by the victim’s husband (before he murdered her), came pictures of Julie, also chopped to death by an intimate partner. Her severed hand lay next to her half naked body; there were deep cuts on her body inflicted by a bush knife. Her head bore the scars of having the same weapon embedded into it. It has been reported that she was pregnant.

Both were young PNGean women and it was PNG men, of their intimate acquaintance, that had savagely and arbitrarily murdered both.

The legal paradigm eagerly adopted and hidden behind by the corrupt of PNG ‘innocent, until proven guilty,’ was not for these women.

The women’s ‘crimes’ (for which they’d suffered the worst of humiliations and the most frightening deaths) had been connected to unfulfilled expectations as chattels of their men.

And the cry went up

It happens everywhere, –

and it does (although the level of violence would be exceptional even in war zones.) In PNG, this level of violence against women it is not at all exceptional, nor is it rare.

Western-style law seems to be no sort of deterrent to these crimes that are often tacitly approved of – their punitive nature bringing back a semblance of control to men (often angry young men).

Angry Young Men

The national response to these atrocities amongst the better educated PNG male (with access to internet and social media) is of shock, horror and disapproval (although many also go to great lengths to see the problem from the murderers point of view – victim blaming is rife). In fact, the response of those who have self-labelled themselves “elites” (sic) is sometimes surprisingly close to the underlying attitude of the transgressors.

Just last week, for example, I had a written conversation on social media with a young, well-educated PNG male with the facebook name of David Putulan (which may or may not be his real name.) He had written a facebook post that invited the ridicule of those with vision impairment.  And there were those only too ready to accept the invitation.

At the same time, Putulan published and spoke of his horror at the pictures of the recently murdered ‘Julie’ on social media and called for them to be removed. It wasn’t so much the act that revolted him, but having to look at the pictures offended his sensibilities.

I wrote on his thread that I thought his post on vision impaired was repugnant and that, under the circumstances, I found his stance on the graphic pictures of the murdered Julie, inconsistent and hypocritical.

There was neither shame nor remorse in his response. Instead, he aggressively instructed:

Never call me an Ignorant (sic) stupid hypocritical PNGean again because I am not. If I become the PM of PNG, I will make you and your country wet your pants.

An empty threat? Sure.  But nevertheless a ham-fisted attempt at intimidation. Putulan did not have the maturity to deal with being chastised by a woman, however poorly he had behaved. And Putulan wasn’t finished: with his fragile male ego dented, it got worse.  With a full deck of cards (ie his higher education) he chose to play the ‘race’ card followed by his ‘ace’ – sexual violence.

And if I meet yu (sic) in png yu (sic) will know who I am. You better wear metal pants.

What had started out as a rebuke over insensitivity to those with a disability had ended with Putulan (having at last understood the emptiness of his threats and his impotence to carry them out) choosing to turn to ridicule involving the mooted sexual competency of the writer – a total non sequitur but an indication of the mindset.

The question is: how representative is Putulan of the rest of the ‘elites’?

If this is the response of the educated, what hope for the women of PNG against men who have not got the benefit of Putulan’s education. I am left wondering if higher education is at all useful in the fight against violence against women in PNG?

For although Putulan offered (sarcastically) to teach me statistical theory, his education had not insulated him from knee-jerk reactions embedded in his psyche by a culture that is dynamically shifting to become more and more sadistically violent towards women nor from the mores of a society whose elite stratum is as compliant and as guilty as the lower strata in their attitudes toward women.

Does the solution lie with the ‘Greatest Happiness’ principle?

Recently a PNG man was stripped naked and pushed around a little by other PNG males before he escaped and high-tailed it down the road (still naked) chased by one of his assailants to the whooping and laughter of the others.

This was filmed and published on many social media sites. It was accompanied by this explanation:

“May this serve as a warning to all the young perverts who text and call women, trying to start up conversations and enticing them to commit adultery. You must respect women. If she is married or engaged or has a boy friend, just back off. If the law doesn’t deal with you, her relatives will dish out jungle justice to you.

Soon after, I had a private inbox message from a young PNG male – his indignation was palpable. His text used the written equivalent of shouting (capitalisation) and of table thumping (over punctuation) he had this to say (reproduced as written, except for the censoring of the more obscene language):


I found the outrage of the writer exaggerated.  When compared to the egregious atrocities that happen to women, the incident was trifling and relatively harmless.

It’s true that in a modern western context we have gone past using public humiliation as a redress for wrongs, but this has not always been the case. In previous times, for instance, transgressors were locked in a vice called the ‘stocks’ in the town square where people were invited to pelt them with rotten fruit and vegetables. Women transgressors had their heads shaved and were often paraded with their skirts lifted and their genitals exposed for their sins.

So, is there then a seed of an idea in this incident about what could effectively deter PNG males from committing crimes against women?

In my writings, I am often accused of being culturally unaware when it comes to PNG traditional practises and sensibilities – with this in mind, as a ‘home grown’ remedy, have I the right (and the rest of western society) to condemn this attempt to regulate aberrant male behaviour – even if the motivation is really the protection of the married man’s chattel?

In fact, does the motive really matter – is it not all about results?

Philosopher Jeremy Bentham was an advocate of the principle of ‘The Greatest Happiness,’ that states that what is morally and ethically right is that which creates the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people – if (non violent) humiliation of a few aberrant offenders would save the lives of many women, is it a remedy worth considering?

I guess the uncertainty lies with the word ‘if’. We cannot know the consequences of actions, we can only guess.

However, it is worth contemplating whether primitive behaviour will only respond to a primitive solution? I wish the answer to that was ‘no’ – but recent incidents have created doubt.

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Lawyer, rapist, wife beater, mother beater, polygamist, conspirator, money launderer, thief…

… reads the profile of Senior Lawyer, Philemon Wass Korowi should all allegations against him be proven writes PNG Echo

White Collar crime

A busy man
A busy man

In a press statement, Sam Koim, of Task Force Sweep has confirmed that yesterday, Mr Korowi was arrested and  charged with:

4 counts of stealing from the state to the tune of over K10 million
4 counts of conspiracy to defraud the State
4 counts of money laundering

The charges were in relation to the Paraka matter where it’s alleged that in 2007, 2008 and 2010 Korowi used his firm’s trust accounts to facilitate and launder payments to Paraka – payments to which Paraka was not entitled.

Violence against women

Lawyer Wass Korowi's alleged victim - his wife's mother
Lawyer Wass Korowi’s alleged victim – his wife’s mother

In January of this year, Mr Korowi grabbed the nation’s attention and revulsion when his badly beaten mother-in-law (one of them), Lero Pat, made allegations of violence against him in an interview with TV station EMTV.

Ms Pat, still carrying the very visible and shocking facial injuries from his (alleged) attack, was so badly beaten that it became necessary to amputate one of her fingers.

Seems Mr Korowi was redefining and extending the idea of wife beating to include his mother-in-law – and, keeping it in the family, it is also alleged he raped his sister-in-law.

Yes, Mr Korowi has been a very busy man – not upholding the law but breaking it (allegedly) in more unspeakable ways than one.


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Hallo 2014 – Political stunts and more violence against women.

By PNG Echo.

PNG Echo is officially back to work after the Christmas break.

With so many things of import occurring in early January, it proved a bit of a ‘Clayton’s’ break.  What happened to the usual practice of Papua New Guniean MPs exiting the country for the summer break and only returning in February for the first sitting of  parliament (and sometimes not even that soon)?

Political shenanigns

6a00d83454f2ec69e2016302cb6ac0970d-200pi Early January saw a dangerous political manoeuvre by the Opposition Leader (were the Casinos closed?) as he insisted on arrest warrants, sworn out at the end of 2013 (of which no one was aware), be carried through on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Treasurer, Don Polye and Minister for Finance, James Marape.

Commissioner of Police, Tom Kulunga

The arrest warrants cut across an ongoing investigation into the same matter being carried out by Investigation Task Force Sweep (TFS) and were contrary to the directions of Tom Kulunga, Commissioner of Police.

In fact the arrests were poised to seriously jeopardize the investigation of the TFS by pre-empting their inquiries.  The arrests were ill-conceived and would have been premature had they gone ahead.

They didn’t123468-png-peter-oneill

Continue reading Hallo 2014 – Political stunts and more violence against women.

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