NUMEROUS STUDIES have established that gender based violence in PNG is a massive problem which severely affects the lives of many women and girls throughout the country.
It is also a major factor in the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Gender based violence refers to the various forms of violence which people, mainly women and girls, experience because of their gender.
It includes wife-beating and other physical violence, unwanted sexual behaviour, sexual abuse & exploitation of both girls and boys, sexual harassment in workplaces and schools, forced prostitution, incest, rape, and the sexual abuse of females by authorities.
International authorities agree that gender based violence is now one of the leading factors in the increased rates of HIV infection among women.
Violence against women and girls increases their vulnerability to HIV and violence is often part of the life of women who disclose their HIV status.
The number of HIV infections in PNG continues to increase with 5,084 newly diagnosed cases in 2008. There are three females for every two males infected, with most infections occurring through unprotected heterosexual sex.
Sexual harassment and abuse of women and girls by males in positions of authority in workplaces and schools and by the police, is common in PNG.
This is the reason why gender based violence is an important issue as it is a cause and a consequence for HIV infection.
Most abusers are male family members and neighbours. Women with a physically abusive partner have higher rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections than women whose partners are not physically abusive.
Women with a sexually abusive partner are twice as likely to be HIV positive as women whose partners are not sexually abusive. It is more common for women to experience forced sex in intimate relationships than to be raped outside of marriage or a relationship.
In its drive towards alleviating gender-based violence in the workplace, the Business Coalition Against HIV and AIDS (BAHA) advocates a compulsory clause in every HIV workplace policy on addressing gender based violence at work.
BAHA also carries out training and awareness sessions on gender-based violence and related topics.
Source: May 2010 newsletter of the Business Coalition Against HIV and AIDS (BAHA)