Interim Protection Orders on rise in Bougainville
The chairperson of the North Bougainville Human Rights Committee isn't surprised that more Interim Protection Orders are being issued in Buka.
The chairperson of the North Bougainville Human Rights Committee says she's not surprised by statistics that show more Interim Protection Orders are being issued in Buka.
Helen Hakena, who also works for a women's NGO in the autonomous Papua New Guinea province, says IPO's are a court order granted to protect a victim from violence or abuse while awaiting a main court order.
She told Bridget Tunnicliffe that during last week's Haus Krai, or House of Mourning, organised after a series of gruesome murders of women accused of sorcery, many Bougainville women came to testify about domestic violence.
HELEN HAKENA: It shows us that the level of violence has gone up in Bougainville, and the women are coming in to seek protection by coming to our office to get IPO's done for them or through the Buka police station. We are not really surprised because of the level of violence that we have witnessed by providing counselling services to so many women and girls, and men as well, who come to our office daily.
BRIDGET TUNNICLIFFE: So do you think it means that there has been an increase in violence or just that it means people are more willing to find help?
HH: People are more aware now, because in previous years we have been conducting awareness campaigns throughout Bougainville and selected communities. So people, particularly women, are more aware of their rights. That is why they are coming to report cases. And it also means that women can easily now access services. There has been, recently, a set up of offices - a women's desk in the police station, a women's desk at the Buka courthouse and the family support centre at the Buka General Hospital. So women have easy access to these services. That's why they are coming almost daily to get Interim Protection Orders done.
BT: Do you think the system of the Interim Protection Orders works well?
HH: Interim Protection Orders work well when the court issues a direction for the perpetrator to attend counselling services. I think that's not worthwhile for women who are given protection orders when there is nothing like that for them. Like, a long-term Interim Protection Order is used for a period only while the victim still waits for the main court order. Because sometimes here in Bougainville we can wait for months and months for the court sessions. So we think in that period of the Interim Protection Order the victim does not go to court for her case to be heard. So it's worthwhile for some women, but not worthwhile for others.
BT: How long does the IPO last for?
HH: It depends on the type of crime that has been committed against the woman. Three months or six weeks - it depends.
BT: And I suppose at the end of the day it is also just a piece of paper, that some men will still defy that order if they really want to.
HH: Yes, it's just a piece of paper. And there have been cases where an IPO has been issued and men have torn those papers in front of the women or in front of the policeman or policewoman who served the IPO on them.
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