I write to rage, to rant, to rave. I write to mourn, to wallow in self-pity. I write to question, but most of all I write to mend my brokenness.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” Mary Anne Radmacher
Where ever you are, whatever your circumstances. Never give up trying.
Two decades ago, Papua New Guinea (PNG) led the way in
the Pacific region in identifying and documenting violence against
women. The statistics below reflect the research conducted at
the time. While this information may now seem dated, more
recent interviews conducted by Amnesty International as part
of a research trip revealed that rates of violence are unlikely
to have decreased and some women’s organisations fear they
may have risen.
• 67% of wives had been beaten by their husbands (national average). (PNG Law Reform Commission 1992)
• Close to 100% of wives in the Highlands experienced violence by their husbands, but half that for Oro and New Ireland provinces. (PNG Law Reform Commission 1992)
• In urban areas, one of every six women interviewed needed treatment for injuries caused by their husbands. (PNG Law Reform Commission 1992)
• 55% of women had been forced into sex against their will. (PNG Institute of Medical Research 1994)
• 60% of men interviewed reported having participated in lainap (gang rape) at least once. (PNG Institute of Medical Research 1994)
The statistics and stories may be shocking. However, this only paints part of the picture.
The patriarchal culture in PNG, as elsewhere, means that violence against women is a key way to maintain women’s inequality.
Violence against women is connected to such customs which maintains women’s lower status – as polygamy and bride price. It strengthen men’s belief that they ‘own’ their wives.
Women also face many different types of violence – violence by their husbands and family, rape and gang rape, sexual violence by police, ‘pay back’ violence against women as part
of tribal fighting and ‘sorcery’-related killings.
Yet, instead of offering tangible solutions to violence against women, the PNG Government continues to do little, dwelling on difficulties and a lack of resources. It means little has changed for women since the first research into the issue was conducted 20 years ago.