HELEN DAVIDSON | The Guardian
PORT MORESBY - The death of a high-profile Papua New Guinean journalist at the age of 41 has sparked a national debate about the country’s continuing epidemic of violence against women, after graphic photographs were shown at her funeral.
Family members of Rosalyn Albaniel Evara, who was an editor at PNG’s largest newspaper, the Post-Courier, have received support from the Port Moresby governor for their calls for a police investigation into her death.
Evara died last week after she collapsed at her Port Moresby home, and was rushed to hospital. The journalist was farewelled at a funeral in Port Moresby on Monday, where an aunt, Mary Albaniel, used her eulogy to allege Evara had been violently assaulted.
Albaniel, wearing a “say no to violence” tee-shirt, showed photographs of her battered body and alleged a history of abuse.
“When I heard that you died, I regretted that I should have done more than just talk to you, but how?” said Albaniel.
She said they discovered the bruises when preparing Evara’s body, and decided to take photos in the hope it may lead to criminal prosecution.
Albaniel told The Guardian she felt compelled to raise the allegations at the funeral, which was attended by Evara’s husband.
“I’m using the same surname as the deceased’s maiden name. To continue advocating in my job as a defender of human rights would be useless if I can’t get justice done,” she said.
“I strongly advocate against all forms of violence against women. That’s why I decided to wear my job cap yesterday.”
On Tuesday morning Port Moresby governor, Powes Parkop, reportedly ordered the woman’s burial be deferred for a post mortem and investigation, overriding the initial wishes of Evara’s mother, who later that day decided to formally request a post mortem.
Parkop has spoken out against gender-based violence in the past, and Albaniel is a human rights and anti-violence against women campaigner.
“It’s not only in PNG. I know from my job [the attention on Evara’s death] will make a big difference, and a big step forward [in addressing gender-based violence]. Because women don’t get the full support from the men, even their own husbands and brothers,” she said.
“Men don’t understand what it means to allow justice to prevail. There is a lot of fear. I told her family and I tell the public that I am advocating against it.”