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Juffa accuses UN of lying about gender ‘thuggery’


Gary JuffaPAPUA NEW GUINEA’s staunchly anti-colonial Oro Province governor has accused the United Nations of lying about the extent of gender inequality in the Pacific region.

Gary Juffa made the statements during the Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum, happening this weekend in Wellington.

“The academic brigades from the UN who are coming forward, are consistently and constantly telling us we’re all thugs, living in caves, beating our women, forcing them to cook and do the laundry,” Juffa told delegates in a passionate speech.

“This is not true. We have a long history of gender equality.

“In my tribe, the women achieve greatness if they achieve it for themselves. We do not define greatness by sexes – we define greatness by a person’s deeds and a person’s ability to rise up. My great grandmother was a warrior. She went to war with men of our tribe.

“I think there needs to be a little bit more research done by experts, who apparently know about the Pacific, but not too much.”

He urged Western observers to emphasise the growth within each nation and avoid one-size-fits-all approaches. He said each national government would have a different way of dealing with the issue.

Julie Soso AkekeEastern Highlands Governor Julie Soso Akele believes there is still much work to be done within Papua New Guinea.

“We are gaining momentum now in Papua New Guinea, with the National Council of Women and other non-government organisations. I think women are now thinking of women taking leadership roles in Parliament,” she told Johnny Blades of Radio New Zealand International.

“In the culture we have, the men are the boss, and the women are the ones behind them.”

She said sorcery was an ongoing issue for women in the country.

Michael Sergel and Finian Scott are Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student journalists at AUT University. They are covering the Pacific politics forum for Pacific Scoop and the Pacific Media Centre as an Asia-Pacific Journalism assignment.


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Gary Juffa

I normally do not respond to comments on forums as it usually leads to volumes of rhetoric but I could not resist but respond to the obviously uninformed statement by Mrs Barbara Short and also that of Peter Kranz, also another obviously reactionist without background information.

Indeed, both have been quick to jump to conclusions and both have missed the point. Why so defensive? I wonder.

Anyway, firstly, my comments were not completely recorded, this is no surprise given that media selects what it wishes to present.

I was actually stating that whilst violence against women is an issue of great concern in PNG (everywhere I would imagine) I am concerned that the UN type academics and the usual crowd of grant seeking characters they seem to engage have generalized the situation to the point where it is truly unethical and improper.

Fact 1 : Not every man in PNG is a wife beater or approevs of such behaviour.

Fact 2: Barbara, PNG society isvaried and very diverse. What one tribe does and believes is not necessarily what the others believe or do.

Also, you have completely made, you have completely made a typical neo-colonialist statement by assuming that papua New Guineans were civilised by kiaps and the colonial administration! Are you kidding? Get out of the 60s Barbara.

We were engaging in complex horticulture and had ver sophisticated systems of political and social management before the colonial administration came along!

What tripe, what drivel!

As for Oro, I have no idea where you got the notion that it is 'completely safe'. I was almost shot in October 2012 stopping a tribal fight. Houses were burnt, several people were shot and cut, and fortunately I intervened to stop what would have been a bloodbath.

When I took office, we had one murder per month. We have managed to bring that down through proactive policing and community policing efforts, but it is still not safe as you claim.

Do not lecture me on my own culture or province, Barbara, or for that matter politics in PNG. You have no idea about it.

And Mr Kranz, you have proved the very point I was trying to make about the UN and its generalizations so there is no need to even lower my IQ to interact with your level of stupidity and ignorance.

Thanks Kristian and Robert for your explanations but I fear they are lost in the staunch colonial barriers that Barbara and Peter are subscribers to.

Thanks, Gary, for enjoining debate. In saying that, I believe you have typecast both Barbara and Peter in the wrong mold. Perhaps a milder correction or expression of disagreement would have been more appropriate - KJ

Robert Puyu

Mrs Short, Mr Kranz and the Western media offer the notion that Highlands men are wife beaters.

I am a proud Highlands man, married to my best friend, my wife of over 21 years, three daughters studying overseas now.

I have never beaten my wife, not even once, nor seen my father, whom you would regard as primitive ofthe 1940s, beat my mother in any form growing up in my little village.

Please do not make any generalisation of Highlands men. We do have issues but I also know some good Highlands men that respect their wives and I regard them as my role models

At least in my travels to the US, NZ, UK and Australia, I have observed that there are spouse abuses in a family institution arguably doing the same effect as wife beaten emotionally and high rate of divorce then many Pacific Islands nation, and in this case Papua New Guinea.

But I have wonderful friends in the above western nations that have good marriages and also been my role models.

There are huge issues in the marriage institution in different formats whether you are in Papua New Guinea, the Islamic World or any of the Western nations.

Wife beating, verbal abuse and divorce are issues equally the same. We all need help!

Kristian Lasslett

It is worth noting that Gary Juffa has been a prominent champion of women's rights in PNG, and indeed has been vocal in supporting those attempting to address domestic violence.

The comments above, I think stem from his frustration over certain orientalist images of PNG. In particular I remember last year Gary taking issue with a UN sponsored exhibition on women in PNG, which included some pretty derogatory generalisations about PNG's culture and the role men play.

So I suspect Gary takes the subject of violence against women very seriously, it is the sort of wild generalisations that accompany some interventions he rejects.

Mrs Barbara Short

The Sydney Morning Herald today's magazine section has a vivid account of the horrible sorcery in the highlands with graphic descriptions of the terrible things men are doing to women in the highlands region.

The story will certainly set back tourism to PNG. No wonder most Australian people don't even think of PNG as a holiday destination.

Juffa is fortunate to come from Oro province where there has been a long history of clever capable women being given much respect. The traditional culture of Oro Province and the impact of Christianity and the role of kiaps in Oro have all played a major role in this.

It is obviously a totally different story in the highlands region and Governor Julie Soso Akele has a good understanding of the challenge facing the people there.

There is obviously a great need for much more education in the highlands region, for more schools and some form of adult education that can help the people to understand more about disease and the many causes of sickness and death so they will stop blaming people for it.

If Juffa wants to become a good Federal politician he needs to speak for the whole country. He needs to leave safe Oro Privince and venture into all the far flung areas of PNG and see for himself the problems that they face, especially the women of those area.

I'm sure the great female leaders from Oro in past times would have had a heart for these women from the highlands.

Peter Kranz

Maybe Gary should look at this....

"...two thirds of women are constantly exposed to domestic violence and about 50% of women become victims of sexual assaults (in Chimbu and Western Highlands provinces, 97% and 100% respectively of women surveyed said they had been assaulted).

"Local men don’t respect their meris..., constantly beating them, often using bush knives and axes.

"While in traditional villages such attitudes toward women can be attributed to tribal culture, today in Port Moresby violence against women shocks modern society."

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