Amnesty says PNG must act over violence against women
Amnesty International lays out steps for the PNG government to take to curb violence against women.
Amnesty International says Papua New Guinea has to take measures to end the systematic violence against women.
The organisation says one year after 20 year old Kepari Leniata was burned alive in a sorcery attack her killers have not been brought to justice.
It says this is just one of many violent attacks on women for which the perpetrators have escaped justice.
Amnesty's Pacific researcher Kate Schuetze told Don Wiseman it is very important for the victims that police investigate and charge people in relation to these crimes.
Kate Schuetze: The vast majority of these cases that is not happening, which is why these sorcery attacks continue to occur. I mean it is almost like the PNG Government took one step forward with removing the Sorcery Act and a couple of steps back in imposing the death penalty but failing to actually take account at an individual level of these sorts of cases. Now we have done extensive research on this at Amnesty International showing that the death penalty isn't an effective deterrent and the most effective way to address high levels of crime is to make sure people don't get away with it. With sorcery related violence I acknowledge that it is a contentious and controversial issue locally because many people fear violence, but Government is not sending the right messages here if they are not holding these people to account and saying this type of violence is never acceptable.
DON WISEMAN: You are saying that the Government needs to commit to systematic measures that will end this violence against women. What sort of things are you thinking of?
KS: Well one of the things is that Government has a responsibility through education to try and end the high rates of violence against women, including sorcery related violence. I mean other than the Government openly condemning these acts when it got that international attention we haven't seen any action from the Government at a more systemic level to try and stop the killings from taking place. The other thing that we are continually hearing from women working on the ground in this area is that a lot of women are at high risk of violence, or they have been attacked and they have no means of escaping their village or their community and getting to safety. There's not enough women's shelters, there are no fully Government funded women's shelters in Papua New Guinea. So by starting that very basic step in terms of protecting women and women's rights defenders by establishing shelters and protecting emergency relief funds for them, they can take that first step to offering people a way out of the violence. And then of course, beyond that they also need to look at investing in the police because they are severely understaffed and under resourced. They need to have the resources to be able to appropriately and properly investigate these matters and bring them to the courts. One of the other things we hear is that the cost of actually bringing a matter to court or taking witnesses into the police station can be quite costly on victims or victims' families, which is another reason as to why we are not seeing these cases coming to court, but we are seeing them recorded in the media. And there are many more cases that we are hearing about ourselves that are just being reported to us but never actually make it to the media and no action is essentially taken in terms of followup by the Government.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: