THE NEW YORK TIMES
PAPUA NEW GUINEA, A DEVELOPING COUNTRY of seven million people with a growing market in the mining of natural resources, is one of the most violent places in the world for women, according to the United Nations.
In the country’s remote Highlands, the Australian government found that nearly every woman has experienced some form of physical violence, including sexual violence.
After decades of abuse from her husband, Agnes, who is now living in a safe house said: “I thought that that was normal for a woman to be beaten by her husband. I never thought it wasn’t right.”
The photographer Carey Wagner spent several weeks in this South Pacific island country documenting how a complex blend of traditional beliefs and lopsided gender dynamics have created a culture of violence in which women are particularly vulnerable.
“Men are being taught that this is the way that you should treat your wife, your sister or even your mother,” said Paulina Castillo, a psychologist affiliated with a Doctors Without Borders clinic in Tari that treats women suffering from bush knife wounds or sexual abuse.
Doctors and nurses at this remote clinic say they have never seen such regularly occurring violence outside of conflict zones.
While violent customs are hard to overcome, the country is taking small steps to bring gender violence under control. In September, Parliament passed a bill that makes all forms of domestic violence a crime punishable with fines and jail time.
“In our culture, men think that they are the bosses and they have the right to control the
woman,” said Lydia, who recently filed an order for protection against her husband. “I want women to know we have our own rights.”