PNG police forced to borrow fuel from NGOs
Understaffed and poorly resourced rural police overwhelmed by cases of violence against women.
A Papua New Guinea human rights NGO, Voice for Change, says poor law enforcement is perpetuating violence against women.
Speaking from a gathering of human rights NGOs in Kundiawa, in Simbu Province, a team leader for Voice for Change, Lilly Besoer, says many rural communities do not even know the law.
Voice for Change works in Jiwaka province where a man is on the run after escaping from police after he allegedly cut on his mother in law's legs.
Koroi Hawkins reports.
A month ago, Esther Gor was an able bodied 35 year old woman. She had been taking care of her four children by working in the garden and sometimes picking coffee beans on the local plantations. Today, Esther is bed ridden, one of her feet cut off at the ankle and the other, below the knee. The man local police believe is responsible for maiming Esther has escaped from police custody and is on the run. He is Esther's son in law. The commander of the local Minj Police station, Horim Piamia says this is not his first attack and Esther's relatives say he had also beaten his wife, Esther's eldest daughter, a few weeks before the attack on Esther. But Commander Piamia says they have yet to start looking for him.
HORUM PIAMIA: Currently we can't go after the suspect because we have logistical problems. Most of the times we have fuel problems. Sometimes we go around begging people to buy fuel just to attend to their complaints and that has been, that has been really a problem that has been hindering us to carry out our job effectively.
A very large part of Inspector Piamia's job is attending to cases of violence against women.
HORUM PIAMIA: Violence against women is one of the very big problems we have in this, in Jiwaka. We have more than ten complaints of violence against women a day. As far as our police capacity is concerned we are really unable to really address this problem. I believe my government has been allocating funds for this to support the police but from the ground level from the district level we are not getting that kind of support.
So with no help coming from the government the Minj police station has entered into a unique partnership with local human rights organisation, Voice for Change, who help buy fuel so that inspector Piamia can get on with his job. The Team Leader for Voice for Change Lilly Besoer believes the lack of law enforcement is perpetuating the issue.
LILLY BESOER: The police are under-staffed as well as under-resourced. So we are trying to do an advocacy on ending violence against women and building safer homes and safer communities. And most of the women that we are working with, they are abused, they are not accessing the justice. We have to make the people know the law and they have to use the law.
Lilly Besoer's organisation is one of many scattered around rural Papua New Guinea and supported by the NGO Oxfam. The Head of Oxfam New Zealand Rachael Le Mesurier has been in PNG where she met with Lilly and other women leaders fighting to eliminate violence against women. She says the problem lies not only in the act of violence itself but in people's perceptions of this violence.
RACHAEL LE MESURIER: The other area when we are looking at Gender Based Violence is how much work is needed to move the culture and the society's assumptions about what is okay and how to treat women. That is beginning to change but it is a long journey and in the meantime a lot of women and girls are suffering from very horrific and significant violence. Whether its under the guise of sorcery, or violence from their partners or gang rapes from strangers and that makes it very very hard for supporting the women's organisations in Papua New Guinea who are trying to bring about change.
Esther Or has made a public appeal for a wheel chair through the pages of the Post Courier newspaper.
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