Call for more help for PNG domestic violence victims
The medical aid NGO, Medicins Sans Frontieres, is calling on the PNG government or aid donors to provide improved long term help for the survivors of family and sexual violence.
The medical aid agency, Medecins Sans Frontieres, says huge gaps remain in services for the victims of domestic violence in Papua New Guinea.
It is hoping the PNG government or overseas aid donors will step up and help fill these gaps.
The MSF has been working to curb family violence in PNG for nearly ten years, having built and operated family support centres in Tari in Hela province and in the capital Port Moresby.
But the organisation in a report called 'Return to Abuser' says, because of a lack of facilities, many victims end up trapped back in the same damaging environment.
MSF's head of mission in PNG, Angelika Herb told Don Wiseman about the data they have collected over the past two years from 3,000 survivors of sexual and family violence treated at their support centres.
ANGELIKA HERB: Over half of them we treated were children, below 18 years. The numbers for Tari are a bit different if we compare them to Port Moresby. What's also very worrisome is that 75 percent of the survivors of sexual violence knew their perpetrator. And the most concerning finding was that even these women and children make it to our clinic even if they wish to leave their abusive environment but they remain trapped with their abuser. Because there is a gap of services in the system which would provide protection for them, for example safe houses which are not there.
DON WISEMAN: So, MSF's produced this report - Return to Abuser, to highlight these facts. You want the government to step in effectively, and do something about it?
AH: Yes absolutely, I mean we have been always working alongside the authority, being a medical humanitarian organisation our first counterpart was of course the National Department of Health. But if we are looking at the gap in protection and law and justice, we definitely want law and justice and the welfare department to step up. Currently we have six safe houses all over the country, five of them are in the capital in Port Moresby. So what we say their is definitely, should be one safehouse or even more in each province. Again safehouses are there to provide temporary or next term shelter of children who are identified being at risk, as their homes and communities are not safe. To increase access to justice so the currently accepting specialised police units who are able to receive children and women and survivors of violence. There are only 17 specialised units all over the country. So this number also has to increase and lastly, there is actually a child and welfare act has a law in place they call the act, Lukautim Pikanini Act. The law itself is there but it needs further steps for implementation so it needs regulation. It needs if I may explain it for example, a shelter policy which would lead to a guideline for safe houses which is currently not there.
DW: Just one safehouse in each town or in each province, it's not going to do much is it, given the nature of the problem or the size of the problem. You need a lot more than that wouldn't you?
AH: Well I mean as I said in Port Moresby there are currently five safehouses but they don't have enough capacity. It's good that we, or survivors can access those five houses, but definitely I fully agree even in Moresby we need more, because a couple of safehouses in Moresby would have actually a bed capacity, where children and women can stay overnight smaller than four.
DW: With those ones that are in existence are you noticing improvements for those families?
AH: Well I there are improvements. I mean we have explained, we've started working in Papua New Guinea in was in 2007 late, and we have achieved along with the National Department of Health there were some important steps made. For example in 2013 the guidelines, how to establish a family department foe example, which was adopted by the National Department of Health. And there was only one signature let's say missing. The clinical guidelines which explains what kind of medical treatment and social care are survivors supposed to have. So this clinical guideline is there and those were very important steps.
DW: I guess in Papua New Guinea particularly at the moment the problem is going to be getting any sort of commitment at all from the government because in a lot of areas it's starting to plead poverty isn't it. How confident are you that the government will come to the party here?
AH: What we did and what we of course will continue we don't only urge the government of Papua New Guinea to stay enough, we also urge the international donors. First be there as a close neighbor, Australia, the Papua New Guinea government does not step up or upscale quickly, therefore we ask also Australia the biggest donor to work alongside and get funds for the sector.
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