PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Children bear the brunt of abuse epidemic

Summary: Report exposes widespread violence that touches the lives of most women and girls, and a 'culture of complicity'.

[12 August 2013] - 

Research into Papua New Guinea's epidemic of domestic and sexual violence has found few women or children are unaffected by abuse and that education is the biggest challenge in ending a "culture of complicity".

More than half of all rape victims who go to hospital are aged under 16. One in four is under 12, and one in 10 is under eight, ChildFund Australia's report Family and Sexual Violence in Papua New Guinea says.

An interview with the manager of Port Moresby women's shelter, Haus Ruth, found about 60% of children who came to the shelter with their mothers had also been abused.

The report drew together data from NGOs and UN and government agencies, and from ChildFund's own field research in the low-lying central province and Port Moresby. It found violence was as much a problem in lower-lying areas as in the more traditionally violent regionsof the highlands and urban Port Moresby.

"Our research found that pretty much every woman interviewed has had an instance of violence or abuse against her," ChildFund's chief executive, Nigel Spence, told Guardian Australia.

Amanda had been abused by her husband for years before she read a pamphlet which told her his actions were illegal. The next time he attacked her, Amanda went to the police and her husband was arrested and imprisoned to await trial, but because she could not afford $10 for a medical certificate that would be evidence of her injuries, his case was dismissed, she said.

A protection order against him was delayed in the system and Amanda was forced back home, where she said he accused her of adultery and continued to beat her over three consecutive days with a rubber hose and a long screwdriver.

"He was continually punching my face. He said he would make me paralysed. I was really injured," Amanda said.

"When he bashed me up he didn't leave me alone. He had sexual penetration with me again, without my consent. I was really in pain. When I said no, he said, 'I am going to bash you up.' He had sexual penetration with me again."

When Amanda's husband sent her to work her boss allowed her to go to hospital, where she received treatment and the important medical certificate. Amanda told ChildFund she was more confident now, and hoped she could encourage other women to come forward.

"I feel proud to tell the other ladies, 'There is the law to protect us,'" she said.




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