Highlands women attend a funeral for a victim of a sorcery accusation-related attack. Photo: Supplied/ 23011513
A rights group wants to see the Papua New Guinea government make real progress in dealing with violence against women, writes Don Wiseman, RNZ Pacific Senior Journalist.
Rights Watch, which released its 2023 World Report last week, said PNG remains
one of the most dangerous places in the world for females, with weak law
enforcement fostering a culture of impunity.
said more than 1.5 million people experience gender-based violence each year.
group's Asia director Elaine Pearson said laws designed to protect women and
children are rarely enforced.
have seen some movement in the PNG parliament to address the issues of violence
against women, but frankly we need to see more than political will, we actually
need to see perpetrators of these abuses, who've engaged in domestic violence,
that has sometimes resulted in the killing of women in Papua New Guinea, to be
held to account.
that means prosecutions and that means convictions,” she said.
Rights Watch also said initiatives such as the Family Sexual and Violence Units
within the police force remain limited, while the lack of services for
survivors of gender-based violence compounds the problem.
February 2022, parliament passed legislation to strengthen criminal penalties
for 'sorcery'-related violence, which the group said continues.
Rights Watch said that last July, following the death of a prominent
businessman, nine women in Enga Province were accused of "sorcery" by
members of the businessman's tribe and were splashed with petrol, burned, and
assaulted with hot iron rods.
rescued five of the women, but assailants killed four,” it said.
of ‘sorcery’-related violence are rarely prosecuted. At time of writing, it
appeared that no arrests had been made in the case, although the police
commander said key suspects would be arrested soon.”
organisation also pointed that PNG has one of the highest maternal mortality
rates in the world with more than 2000 women and girls dying in childbirth each
said these deaths are largely preventable but the risk of maternal death is
increased by limited access to hospitals, with more than 80 percent of the
population living rurally.