Act now, let’s end GBV


THE special parliamentary committee on gender-based violence (GBV) presented its report on the inquiry into GBV in Papua New Guinea in Parliament last week.
GBV is ravaging our country, with women and children bearing the brunt of the epidemic of violence, which seems to increase every year.
The executive summary of the report made reference to PNG’s demographic and health survey (DHS) 2016-2018, which found that 56 per cent of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence and 28 per cent have experienced sexual violence.
Eighteen per cent of women experienced violence during pregnancy.
Sixty-three per cent of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced spousal physical, sexual or emotional violence at some point in their life.
Among the women who reported any form of physical and/or sexual violence and who sought help from anyone, a mere 5 per cent sought help from the police, 5 per cent from medical services and just 3 per cent from social services.
The DHS data indicated that 28 per cent of adolescent girls aged 15-19 years had experienced sexual violence.
Data from the national health information system database stated that from 2018-2020, medical care was provided to a total of 18,759 sexual violence cases.
Of these, boys under 16 years old accounted for 2,279 cases (12 per cent).
In one study in the National Capital District (NCD), around 60 per cent of children who went to a women’s shelter in Port Moresby had been abused.
The above statistics is troubling and the Government should immediately work on this issue.
In recognition of the enormity of the GBV problem facing the country, on Aug 24 2020, a “high level meeting on gender-based violence” was organised in Port Moresby, co-chaired by NCD Governor Powes Parkop and East Sepik Governor Allan Bird.
The meeting resulted in the formal establishment of the coalition of parliamentarians to end GBV, who endorsed a resolution on addressing GBV.
From there, the first national GBV summit was held in November.
At the conclusion, the members of the coalition endorsed the GBV summit outcome statement, which committed them to working to address GBV across the nation.
A concrete outcome of the coalition’s advocacy was the establishment of the special parliamentary committee on GBV chaired by Alotau MP Charles Abel and has six other MPs, Bird, Parkop, Chimbu Governor Michael Dua, Goroka MP Aiye Tambua, Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu and Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat.
The committee tried to be as specific as possible in developing recommendations to ensure that officials knew clearly what was expected of them.
It should be a national concern at the increasing levels of violence across the country.
Committee members discussed this at the public hearing, querying why violence has become the first response of many people when they had disagreements or face problems.
GBV impacts every single person in PNG whether as a survivor, a perpetrators or a witness.
The costs of violence were not only seen at a household and community level, but affect the economy as well.
GBV has long been a challenge that successive governments have sought to tackle, but there has been little sustained progress and testimony from GBV survivors across the country, which suggests that the problem is getting worse.
Recommendations by the committee covered a very wide range of issues that should be addressed by the Government if there is to be any real change.