10 Dec 2013

PNG Family and Sexual Committee says women-only buses not answer

5:47 pm on 10 December 2013

The Family and Sexual Action Committee in Papua New Guinea says a plan to introduce women-only buses in Port Moresby is not the answer to helping women feel safer.

UN Women in PNG hopes to roll out the bus service early next year as part of a pilot project.

The group recently conducted a series of focus groups and found more than half of the women surveyed felt unsafe at bus stops or on buses, which are known as PMVs.

But the national co-ordinator of the Family and Sexual Action Committee, Ume Wainetti, told Amelia Langford that UN resources could be better used.

UME WAINETTI: Providing a women-only bus service is not the answer. The answer, I believe, would be them to really help us to advocate about the rights of women. People are providing this service and helping them to realise they need to provide safer environments in the transport system for women to do what they need to do. The other thing is if you have only women travelling and they're doing economic activities you're probably creating a target, so you could be creating a target... The buses may be targeted because women are in the buses, only women.

AMELIA LANGFORD: What do you think would be a better way to make public transport safer?

UW: I think the best thing to do is to advocate with the transport department in this country to make sure... Because PMVs are owned privately, and to advocate with them all to make sure that anybody will penalised for harming anybody using the public transport system.

AL: The police say they want to have a stronger and more visible police presence near bus stops and maybe even on buses. What do you think about that?

UW: It won't work, we all know that police do not have the personnel to do it nor do they have the money to pay people to be there all the time. The best way is to make sure that those providing the service are responsible to ensure that they take the responsibility to make sure that the people using this service are protected.

AL: UN Women will be putting some money into this bus initiative.

UW: They could best put that into advocacy training, bringing awareness to the drivers, to the bus conductors, people like that. And also in the communities where women come to use these services. Because most times it's not really in the buses that are are not safe. It's when we leave the buses late evenings or early mornings, that's when we're at risk.