Articles and Documents

  • Publisher: Human Rights Council (Twenty-third session)

    Publication date: 18 March 2013

     

    The present report contains the findings of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, following her visit to Papua New Guinea. The Special Rapporteur examines the situation of violence against women in the country, including violence that is perpetrated within the family and the community; violence occurring in institutional settings; and violence related to the development of the country‟s extractive industries. She discusses the State‟s legislative and institutional responses to such violence, and provides recommendations. 

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  • The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions conducted an official visit to Papua New Guinea from 3 to 14 March 2014. The aim of the visit was to examine the level of protection of the right to life in Papua New Guinea, as well as the efforts undertaken to prevent unlawful killings and ensure justice and redress in such cases. During the visit, the Rapporteus travelled to Port Moresby, Buka in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Goroka, Kundiawa, Lae, and Manus Island. During two weeks, he held meetings with Government and Legal bodies, police, the Office of the Public Prosecutor, the Office of the Public Solicitor, United Nations representatives,  and a series of non-governmental organizations, human rights defenders, academics, victims and their relatives.

    A detailed report on the findings and recommendations will be presented at the 29th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2015. The observations and recommendations presented today are preliminary and will be examined and developed further in the future report.

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  • Author (s): Priya Chattier
    Almah Tararia
    Publication type: In Brief
    Publication date: 2014
     

    Among the consequences of conflict over gender roles or norms, the most disempowering one is violence against women. As part of the World Bank’s qualitative study informing the World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development (WDR 2012) local researchers in Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG) organised focus groups to elicit information about the impact of gender norms on women and men and to learn about the changes in women’s and men’s lives as these gender norms changed or persisted. This In Brief presents men’s and women’s accounts of domestic violence when we asked focus groups to reflect on what typically happens in their communities when a wife is not a good wife or a husband is not a good husband. The focus groups’ narratives consistently reported that men who are unable to fulfil their provider role often act out their frustrations with violence, and that it remains acceptable in many communities to sanction women harshly for minor infractions that are perceived as challenging male authority or norms of feminine conduct. Existing studies suggest that men’s lives in the Pacific are enmeshed in processes of transformation. In particular, Eves (2006) notes that masculine ideals of men are being actively challenged where changing socio-economic conditions make it difficult to realise dominant models of masculinity. This greatly complicates women’s agency and their pursuit of goals requires either resistance to, or relaxation of, the gender norms that govern their roles and responsibilities. There is limited research being done exploring why gender norms around traditional roles of men and women often persist even when circumstances change.

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  • Author (s): Melissa Demian
    Publication type: In Brief
    Publication date: 2014
     

    In 2013, I witnessed a sitting of Hanuabada Village Court in Port Moresby as a guest of the Village Courts Secretariat of Papua New Guinea. Hanuabada was a showcase for an initiative of the secretariat in collaboration with the Australiafunded Law and Justice Partnership to train and appoint more women as Village Court magistrates. This particular court sitting also afforded an opportunity to observe a large urban Village Court in operation, as its style of conducting proceedings stood in stark distinction to the rural Village Courts in which I have previously conducted research (Demian 2003). Hanuabada Village Court hewed closely to the formalities of the District and National Courts, the magistrates’ handbook was consulted frequently, and the court appeared in every way to operate as the state apparatus it is meant to be. In contrast, I once recorded a rural Village Court magistrate from Milne Bay Province telling his court in 1999, ‘There is no government here: we are the government’.

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  • Author (s): Miranda Forsyth
    Publication type: In Brief
    Publication date: 2014
     

    In 2013, widespread publicity given to the deaths of two women accused of witchcraft in Papua New Guinea (PNG) drew international and national attention to the problem of sorcery and witchcraft accusation–related violence. In the face of mounting pressure to take action, including the national haus krai protest calling for an end to violence against women, the government responded by repealing the Sorcery Act 1971 and creating a new provision in the Criminal Code Act 1974 (Chapter 262). Section 229A of the Criminal Code Act provides that any person who intentionally kills another person on account of an accusation of sorcery is guilty of wilful murder, for which the penalty is death. However, there is growing recognition, both within the government and the wider community, that these problems cannot be solved solely at a legislative level, and must rather involve a holistic response. This In Brief outlines the substance of, and steps leading to, a draft national action plan that was developed in June 2014 to provide a concrete foundation for this holistic response.

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  • Author (s): Jenny Munro
    Publication type: In Brief
    Publication date: 2014
     

    Alcohol is officially banned in the West Papuan highlands, but home-brewed alcohol (minuman lokal in Indonesian, literally, ‘local drink’) is inexpensive, widely available, and transforming interpersonal, political, and gendered violence in the area. Scholarship on alcohol in the Pacific views consumption as a mode of male social differentiation related to racialised power and status, owing to the gendered, colonial history of alcohol consumption (Marshall 1982), as well as the ‘prestige economy’ of burgeoning resource sectors (Macintyre and Bainton 2013). In contrast to beer and other forms of alcohol, home-brew has received less attention.

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  • Author (s): Richard Eves
    Angela Kelly-Hanku
    Publication type: In Brief
    Publication date: 2014
     

    Abstract

    The issue of sorcery and witchcraft-related accusations and violence in Papua New Guinea is receiving increasing attention domestically and internationally. A growing body of literature is also focusing on the issue, providing non-government organisations, donor agencies, and the Papua New Guinea government with an evidence base for addressing the problem in locally appropriate ways. Little of the literature, however, deliberates upon the perpetrators of these violent attacks. This In Brief reports on interviews undertaken in November and December 2013 in Goroka with eight perpetrators who had been involved in 13 attacks on people accused of witchcraft.

     

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  • Author (s): Richard Eve
    Joanne Crawford
    Publication type: In Brief
    Publication date: 2014
     

    It is now widely accepted that women’s economic empowerment brings a range of benefits even beyond gender equality gains for individual women, greatly improving the health, wellbeing, and productivity of entire families and countries, and contributing to effective, sustainable development. Recognising these substantial benefits, the Australian aid program places strong emphasis on addressing women’s economic disadvantage. In the recent announcement of the appointment of the new Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja, both the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash, highlighted the need, particularly in the Pacific, to promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, and to address violence against women (Bishop and Cash 2013).

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  • Author (s): Richard Eves
    Publisher: State, Society & Governance in Melanesia Program
    Publication type: In Brief
    Publication date: 2013 
     

    In this In Brief, Associate Professor Richard Eves looks at the lack of definitional clarity that exists around the terms sorcery and witchcraft in the Papua New Guinea context. He notes that the blurring of these two terms occurs not only in popular media but that it is also “widely reproduced by NGOs, donor organisations, and government institutions”.

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  • In early January a girl aged 16-20 years old was burned alive in front of witnesses in Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea (PNG). She was accused of being a witch. This most recently reported sorcery killing in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is not an isolated incident.

    Before being burned alive in public the girl was reportedly stripped naked, blindfolded, gagged and tied to a pole. Reports state there were witnesses to this murder. To date, there have been no arrests or charges laid in relation to the crime.

    In the remote communities and highlands provinces of Papua New Guinea, “puri puri” – the traditional belief of sorcery – is being rampantly used as a pretext for brutal acts of violence against women. More than 50 reported cases of sorcery-related deaths occurred in 2008 alone, and local authorities believe that many more instances of murder have gone unreported.

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