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Privilege, tokenism & acknowledgement: a cautionary tale

Research into the causes of domestic violence is critical

Francis Nii
Francis Nii

FRANCIS NII

KUNDIAWA - Domestic violence is again in the headlines of Papua New Guinea’s media following the death of journalist Rosalyn Evara last month.

At the time of her unexpected death, Rosalyn was business editor of the Post Courier newspaper.

Her death was alleged to be a result of domestic violence, but Port Moresby General Hospital’s chief pathologist Dr Seth Fose, who carried out the autopsy, stated that embalming and decomposition had undermined any reliable findings as to cause.

Earlier, at Rosalyn’s funeral, a family member had made public graphic photos of the harm done to her body.

The matter is now before the coroner for further investigation and final determination on the cause of Rosalyn’s death.

The first case of gender-based violence that came to prominence was the brutal murder of 20-year old Kepari Leniata in Mt Hagen in 2013.

Keniata had been accused of sorcery and was burned to death on a pile of tyres before a crowd of onlookers.

Her case, and horrific images, went viral in social and mainstream media and drew national and international condemnation.

Human rights advocates, women’s groups, NGOs and individuals vehemently called for justice against the perpetrators and demanded that the PNG government take tougher measures to address the problem.

Subsequently Andrew Watea and Janet Ware, the main perpetrators of the atrocity, were arrested and charged with murder.

The PNG government then passed the Family Protection Bill in the same year, criminalising domestic and gender-based violence and enabling perpetrators to be arrested and prosecuted.

The outcome, however, has been disturbing. Reports reveal a very low number of arrests and prosecutions related to gender-based violence.

Most cases are not reported by victims or their relatives. Why?

This is the critical question that needs answers if we are to get to the root of the problem and find a solution.

The way stakeholders address the issue is twofold: undertaking awareness campaigns among men, and providing medical and psychological care for victims before reintegrating them into their communities.

There is little or no effort being made to find the cause of gender-based violence.

On 24 March this year, the government launched a national strategy to prevent and respond to gender based violence. This was the result of a three-year joint effort by various government agencies and the United Nations Development Program.

I haven’t had the benefit of reading the document, but at least there seems to be a road map for addressing this social illness.

With this strategy, it is imperative that the focus be redirected from cure to prevention and that means more research on finding root causes.

The fundamental question to start with is why female victims and their relatives are reluctant to report violent acts to the authorities for arrest and prosecution? Why the silence on the part of victims?

I strongly believe this question will unveil the underlying causes of this violence and from there fact-based remedial measures can be developed.

It is time for redirection of focus to find the causes of domestic violence and to address these rather than just treating the effects.

Comments

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Trudi Sieland

I completely agree with that. So much money is being channelled into Gender projects and women empowerment, but we see very little efforts made into understanding the underlying issues. Often it is blamed on culture and the nature of our patriarchal society.... but is it really?? Or is it a new phenomena resulting from the clashes of old and new values... It would be interesting to look into perceptions and behavioural patterns between the genders in previous generations and compare them with today....

John K Kamasua

the best deterrent is to make the law and justice system as well as the support system in place to work as they should

Lindsay F Bond

Not diverting from the gender topic in focus by Francis, is attribute also reportedly of men: 'bloodlust of mobs that attack herds of elephants for fun.'
See: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-08/burning-elephant-image-wins-sanctuary-wildlife-photography-award/9131724

Protection of family livelihood may account for some of the 'discouragement' inflicted on those creatures in India, but a herd mentality of the (reported) gender cohort is inescapably at core.

Lindsay F Bond

Of that which is recent and publicised, what outcomes follow from "the ‘Port Moresby: A Safe City for Women and Girls’ project between NCDC and UN Women” ? Turn project on to protect?

Ok, that "October is internationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month", brings no relaxation in November. Turn process on to progress?

Michael Geketa

Bro, F Nii. I' am with you in condemning the evil of domestic violence; so as the whole community of peace lovers. But the question of finding a root cause is nothing new.

Millions of kina had been sacrificed just to research this issue year in, year out. I'm pretty sure a convenient answer or answers to this issue has been found but being deliberately not published by those concerned.

Remember money is the real issue and not the root cause of domestic violence in this scenario. And to reveal the real cause of this issue would be the end of a money source for most of them who conduct these research.

Domestic violence is an in-house matter which does not require international intervention to find an amicable solution. Firstly, it is a social issue which is people-related.

This means the cause is ourselves; meaning if we started it, we have the answer to it.

Secondly, it is a personality situation whereby we as individuals are the cause and this means we must make amendment as to how we conduct ourselves. This leads on how we as families relate to our fellow relatives and others.

Then it leads on to clans working with other clans, tribes with tribes, LLGs with LLGs, Districts with Districts, Province with Province and as a whole the way we pride ourselves as being Papua New Guineans.

This is where the issue of Nationalism and Patriotism comes to the fore. If we lack these sentiments, then we are conducting ourselves in ad hoc basis without much foundation.

All in all, solution to domestic violence is within us and calls for a right frame of mind leading to good conduct from all human beings we are.

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