16 Apr 2003

PNG women welcome tougher sex offence laws

10:21 am on 16 April 2003

Papua New Guinea women groups have welcomed changes to laws which allow women to take their husbands to court for rape.

The President of the Eastern Highlands Women's group, Julie Ake says the changes to the Sexual Offence and Evidence laws also makes it easier for child victims to give evidence and receive greater protection.

The government approved the introduction of marital rape as part of the Criminal Code on Sexual Offences and Crimes Against Children.

It also allowed changes to the Evidence Act in which victims no longer need medical evidence or witnesses to prove their cases and for a child victim's identity to be protected during a trial.

Mrs Ake says the amendments recognise women as having rights.

"Men have the attitude that they have paid so much bride price and they are our property. They do not see us as another human being just like them with our own human rights - what they want to do with us is up to them. If they want to abuse us sexually, it's up to them because they have paid so much money for us. I'm really proud being a provincial president about this law. It'll really help us all."

Tougher sentences will also be introduced such as 15 years for rape and life imprisonment for sexual offences against children under 12 years.