Gender based violence in PNG the ‘norm’, committee hears

Gender-based violence protest in Papua New Guinea.
PHOTO: UN Women

In PNG, Gender-Based Violence (GBV) has become a norm with already 72% of young Papua New Guineans experiencing violence in their relationships every day, the parliamentary committee on this issue has been told.

Deputy chair of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender-Based Violence Allan Bird noted this at the commencement of the committee’s second public hearing.

He said data taken from the National Demographics Health Survey was quite scary and appealed to men to change their attitudes.

“Because tomorrow when they have children, these children will know that life is when a man and woman come together and your job is to fight in your homes.

“And you know one of the criticisms that this committee gets is that the attitude of Papua New Guinean men that needs to change,” the East Sepik Governor said.

“That is the Papua New Guinea we are building and if all of us men think that it’s okay then I feel sorry for the future we have for our country. It is the men that need to stand up first and say no.”

The opening of the second public hearing was officiated by committee chairman and member for Alotau Charles Abel, Bird and committee member NCD Governor Powes Parkop. 

The two-day hearing is aimed at getting updates on tasks rendered in the previous hearing.

Abel concurred with Governor Bird adding that GBV was a behavioural issue given that seven out of every ten young PNG people witnessed violence at home according to the same National Demographics Health Survey.

“What these statistics are telling us is that, this is a behavioural issue,” he said.

“We need citizens to look at themselves and try and commit to a change. Starting with us men to look at ourselves and make a commitment not to use violence as a way to solve problems in a home because that is the fundamental issue.”

The committee has already secured funding and is pushing to set up a National Gender-Based Violence Secretariat wholly responsible for the co-ordination of projects against GBV across the country.

Meanwhile, only 189 of 25,036 perpetrators of gender-based violence who were interviewed by police from 2018 to 2021 were convicted of the crime, says PNG Police Commissioner David Manning.

“1,873 were arrested, with only 59 permanent protection orders (PPO) were granted,” he said.

“Police assisted 18,766 victims of GBV, 16,016 were women, 2,439 were men, 221 were children while police dealt with 90 victims within the Constabulary.

“The GBV cases were reported in National Capital District, Central, Lae, Mt Hagen and other centres.”

Police Minister William Onglo said the PNG family and sexual violence unit (FSVU) needed K60 million (US$17 million) for over five years to ensure the unit is fully equipped to deal with the cases and can recruit more officers to the unit.

“A five-year budget projection was submitted to the budget review committee, however, there was no positive feedback from the Government on the budget submission, and we are still following up with the review committee to follow through on this,” he said.

“GBV cases are classified as criminal or civil, with many people experiencing family and sexual violence applying for a protection order to stop the violence.

“Protection orders are issued by a court and contain conditions that aim to prevent further violence, they may contain conditions requiring the perpetrator not to commit any more violence or stay away from the victim or survivor.

“There are two types or protection orders, interim protection orders (IPO) and PPO.”

Manning said: “Interim protection orders are faster to obtain but last only 30 days, PPO can last up to two years, after receiving an IPO, survivors can ask for it to be converted into a PPO for a longer term support.”

Onglo said: “A circular number six of 2007 demonstrates the Constabulary’s commitment to address GBV and family sexual violence (FSV).

“The circular still allows the Constabulary across all rank and file to give prominence to call GBV or FSV cases lodged in any police stations across the country, the circular also aligns and gives effect to the family and sexual violence unit standard operation procedures and guides the staff across the country to carry out their duties effectively,” he said.

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