Papua New Guinea: Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights subject to gang rape, beatings and murder of female ‘sorcereres’

Call on Government to tackle levels of violence that are impeding development and contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS

The government's ongoing failure to tackle violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Papua New Guinea has resulted in this violence becoming so pervasive that it impedes national development and contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

Purna Sen, Asia Pacific Director at Amnesty International, said as she launched the report from the capital Port Moresby:

“Violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights is endemic in Papua New Guinea: it affects the majority of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls in some parts of the country. Apologists for this violence, including in government, cling to tired old excuses such as culture, tradition or lack of resources.”

Gang rapes, knife attacks on wives, beating and sexual abuse of girls and torture and murder of female "sorcerers" are among the many forms of violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Papua New Guinea. The threat of rape, sexual assault and other violence is so great that Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls cannot freely move round their communities, go to school, to the market or to work. The state's failure to enable Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights to become safely involved in civil and economic life severely constrains the full use of resources for national development.

'Margaret', from Angoram, East Sepik told Amnesty International:

"My husband took a second wife and I had to live with both of them in my house. When I came home one day and found everything in a mess, I said, 'this is my house and you should keep it clean'. My husband broke my nose and hit me with timber over the back of the head. I went to the police to tell them to arrest them - they said they would do it but they didn't... I am tired of the police, they're useless."

Horrific stories of torture, rape and other violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are regularly reported in national media. Papua New Guinea was a frontrunner among states in identifying and documenting violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights two decades ago, but the debate has never been translated into adequate action on the ground. A lack of political will and the government's tendency to dwell on difficulties and dredge up old excuses has meant that very little has changed for Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in 20 years. Sadly, many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights have come to see violence as 'normal', as have men, confident in the knowledge that the state will not act quickly, decisively or consistently against them.

Purna Sen continued:

"The government must set up a body to monitor how the state is measuring up to its obligations under international law, to investigate and to act on complaints of violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights. This body must be given enough resources to travel around the country and to do its job properly."

"The Papua New Guinean government must identify and eliminate the root causes of violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights. Gender inequality and discrimination is supported by customs such as polygamy and bride price, which strengthens men's belief that they 'own' their wives. The government should conduct a review of customary laws and practices and swiftly change or abolish any that discriminate against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.”

The police are underfunded and rarely investigate complaints. They are themselves often directly implicated in attacks. Almost all the Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who spoke to Amnesty International said that the police regularly sent home those reporting domestic violence, or 'wife bashing' as it is locally termed, telling them it was a "family matter".

High levels of sexual violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights also heightens their risk of being infected with HIV. Papua New Guinea is facing a growing HIV epidemic, with a reported annual increase of 15-30% in numbers infected. The social acceptability of violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights has been identified as one of the main factors contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights at most risk, those whose partners have multiple wives or who travel a lot, often say they have no control over the use of condoms and cannot refuse sex.

Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights human rights activists in Papua New Guinea have long been at the forefront of efforts to prevent violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights. They do essential work offering shelter, counselling, or legal advice to survivors of violence, with little or no support from the government.

More about our Women's rights's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights campaign

Notes to Editors

Names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals.

Read a copy of the report, ‘Papua New Guinea - Violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights: Not inevitable, never acceptable’ /p>

Read the special appeal for Anna Benny about Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who have reported violence /p>

Read about Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights human rights activists working in PNG /p>

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