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Scrap bride price, PNG urged

A HUMAN rights group has urged the Papua New Guinea government to abolish the cultural practice of bride price to safeguard women against violence. In a report released last month, the Human Rights Watch group said family violence in Papua New Guinea is at emergency levels and accused the government of neglecting survivors’ needs for safety, services and justice.  

The report, titled “Bashed Up: Family Violence in Papua New Guinea”, is based on interviews with advocates and victims. The watchdog said rates of family and sexual violence in the country were among the highest in the world and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.

In calling on the PNG government and police to implement laws to counter the problem, HRW said family violence had been estimated to affect two-thirds of homes in the country. The report said in some communities there were harmful, discriminatory practices that both contribute to family violence and impede survivors from seeking help.

These include the practices of bride price, polygamy and accusations of sorcery. “Many of the survivors HRW interviewed were constrained by their economic dependence on their abuser, and fear that fleeing their abuser would result in harm to their children,” the report said.

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