By JAMES APA GUMUNO
TWO girls and an elderly woman were gang-raped by 22 men in separate incidents in Western Highlands over the weekend.
In the first attack, two 16-year-old cousins were taking a shortcut home when confronted by 16 boys armed with bush knives at 10am on Sunday.
They raped the girls in Hupa village in Hagen Central. One of them lost her handphone.
In the other attack, six men threatened an elderly woman with bush knives and gang-raped her in Tambu district.
Provincial police commander Supt Kaiglo Ambane said all the rapists were still at large but some of their
identities were known to the victims.
“It is a matter of time before we nab them,” he said.
He said gang rape and kidnapping of young girls were on the rise in the province, with
four rapes reported in a week.
“This clearly indicates that women and young girls are no longer safe to live within their own community.
“Young boys and married men don’t have any respect for mothers and girls anymore,” Supt Ambane said.
He said compensation payments were also encouraging rape cases with men regarding women as “items in stores” in which they can rape, pay compensation and escape from the law.
“This mentality of paying compensation has to be changed because it hinders police work to arrest suspects and put them behind bars.
“When relatives of the victims say no to compensation and allow the law to take its course, it will have a big impact on communities, thereby, helping to reduce rape,” he said.
Supt Ambane appealed to clansmen to stop hiding rape suspects in their communities and to surrender them to the police.
“You are not helping the rapists. You are also indirectly encouraging them to commit more crimes,” he said.
He also said the best place for rapists, and other criminals, was Baisu jail where they could be rehabilitated.