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05 September 2014


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I think the Catholic Church is not promoting witchcraft and sorcery but protecting the unprotected PNG citizens.

Winifred - I think village dramatic productions (plays) would be a good forum for exploring this issue. It has already been done.

People love a play which can tell a story and show in drama the effects of, say, a family beset by violence. This can be a force for change - or it may at least make people think.

It worked for the ancient Greeks - Thespis is the first recorded actor (after whom thespians are named). It worked for the early Christians, through the miracle plays. And it worked for the Elizabethans and gave rise to some of the best writing in the English language.

Maybe we need a Tok Pisin Shakespeare who can take a roving company to the villages and settlements of PNG.

Whatever happened to th4e PNG National Theatre Company? Wan Smolbag Theatre is working to good effect in Vanuatu.

Peter Kranz, I agree that the churches have an important role in changing people's mind set.

I have come across changed men as a result of the intervention of the Christian faith.

Churches therefore do enjoy the perfect opportunity to speak of improving the position of women to a captive audience as advocates against violence.

That opportunity exists once every week (Sundays or Saturdays) not counting the special feast days and memorial celebrations.

I pray for their more active role in that regard.

Keith Jackson, how does one get to consult the contributors to this site for their counsel, guidance outside this forum?

I would very much like to hear from Peter Kranz, Fr Giorgio, Robin Lillicrapp and Bernard Yegiora if they agree for us to explore ways which advocacy on gender generated violence can be better presented to break the cycle of violence.

I will email you their contact details, Winifred - KJ

Thank you Winifred. I have seen the effects of violence against women in PNG from my own family. One aunty had lost an eye, a sister had cigarette burns all down her arm and scars on her body from being chained to a bed and violently raped.

And it's not just a problem in PNG. When I was living in Darwin I was entering Casuarina shopping centre car park and saw a man beating a woman over the head with a full drink bottle. There were dozens of people around who did nothing but look away in embarrassment.

I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and pushed him up against the wall. "You don't do that to a woman! I'm calling the police."

His response before he ran off?

"I can do what I like to her. She's my wife."

And I don't think religion is anything to do with it. In fact the Churches are a major force for good in combating violence (in my experience).

The problem is in the attitude and behaviour of men.

Inequality of gender and tolerance of violence against women is PNG's own cultivated disease. It was not imported nor forced by anyone from outside.

The PNG Law Reform Commission Report of 1992 on domestic violence ranked reasons interviewees from selected provinces from the four regions of PNG gave about wife bashing.

Top of the list , was that " it was OK because "em kastom" (it is customary).

Belief in sorcery also pre-dates the colonial intervention and Christianity.

Looking for a scapegoat for the ills of our own making is not helpful. Individuals, the State and the religious communities do need to work together to realign and combine the efforts to raise the status of women and remove the indignity they suffer.

Peter Kranz , your poem is very telling of the horror of the violence on women. We need to continue the story telling so more people can join in the search for long lasting solutions to end this violence.

Any foundation for "Christianity" contributing to gender inequality resulting in abuse toward women; if it is from Biblical origin, will draw its inspiration from the Genesis description of the seduction of Eve.

From this seed-stock, outcomes adversely affecting women are, in my estimate, emanating from the realm of manhood asserting primacy over women.
In fact, it is a fantasy world of half truths and outright lies that vainly perpetuates the infamy whether in the hands of religion or otherwise that so despoils the world's cultures where violence against women occurs.

Aside from personal conviction and compassion arising from a vital relationship with a Living Savior that changes entrenched attitudes in human hearts, little else but institutionalized attempts to establish and enforce basic human rights exists to promote equality.

Herein lies the grounds of criticism that religion might have to bear. Its all too often recorded intransigence in social circumstances historically trends to favor male domination over inclusion of females in life as well as liturgy.

It is not fair to cast stones at Christianity without first seeing the issue of violence against women far and away pre-dating the 20th century.

It is fair to make estimates of judgment about visible cases of violence against women in society and express the will to do something about it.

That is why, in all likelihood, the champions of the "fair-gender's" cause should come from the ranks of Christian leadership and laity who are cognizant of the propensity for error latent in the heart of every man, and especially as it relates to fairly and equitably dispensing commonsense re human cohabitation and relationships.

As with most things born of strife and tension, apologies to those grieved are in order. Fittingly, I think, this will be most regarded by recipients if men of Christian repute and goodwill are first to own up as to how often they (that's me too) are anal toward Eve's descendants.

Unequal gender relations is just one of the many reasons behind sorcery killings.

But I know Papua New Guineans who genuinely believe in sorcery, who believe that it can be used to kill and harm.

I do not think it should be discounted and rationalised from a point of view of someone who grew up outside of a world where children overhear stories discussed every night by adults in the family of strange happenings causing by black magic or sorcery.

I grew up in such a world and am educated and will admit (with shame) that I will still, despite all my rationalisation wonder if just maybe...sorcery exists.

From Fr Franco Zocca:

Since I am quoted by Ms Popoutsaki, I would like to say that I find her statements too apodictic, or beyond dispute.

I don’t think that gender inequality in PNG is “ the result of post colonial times and Christianity”. Gender inequality was here much earlier than that.

While confirming my opinion that education and science are the major factors in eradicating the belief in the effectiveness of sorcery in causing sickness, death, and disasters, I still stress that, according to the results of research conducted by Melanesian Institute in several PNG provinces, those who are accused of sorcery are in great majority women.

To fight the belief, therefore, could go in favour of the survival (literally) of many women.

Having said that, I agree with Ms Popoutsaki that we all, churches included, have to contribute to the improvement of the status of women in PNG.

The above statements probably need to be further elaborated in order to be taken up for serious discussion...

I have seen this article also in another blog, but I suspect the original reporter may not have done a perfect job.

An "Associate Professor" in fact cannot have said that "unequal gender relations, which are the result of the post-colonial times and Christianity, are being used to justify violence against women."

Does it really mean that there were no "unequal gender relations" in PNG society before 16 September 1975?

I cannot comment on tales of violence against women in PNG anymore. I don't have the emotional strength.

But here's a poem.

To see a woman crying, dying
That is the saddest thing.

To see a woman beaten, mistreated
That is an awful thing.

To hear a mother lying, imploring
Her children not to blame their father,
That is a soulless thing.

To see a woman's body, wounded,
No medicine can heal,
No consolation real
That is the evilist thing.

To see a woman dead
When help has merely fled
The life from her has bled
The ground around stained red
Her hopes of future shred
That is the hell we bring.

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