Change attitudes toward women

The National,Tuesday June 21st, 2016

Domestic violence is a problem in marriages and relationships across all walks of life.
In Papua New Guinea, the issue is not just something that is confined to the villages and rural areas where the male dominated societal beliefs hold particular sway, and where women and treated, if not seen in a lesser role compared to their male counter-parts.
But while one can understand wife bashing and violence against women which is common place in the village setting it is hard to comprehend how educated men and particularly those occupying high positions in state departments and private enterprises can lower themselves to such a level and commit this physical abuse.
One of the biggest problems with wife bashing and general violence against women in Papua New Guinea is that many consign the issue to be a personal one and a problem that should be firstly solved within the confines of the relationship.
But therein lies the problem, once a women is assaulted it is a crime – there are no grey areas here.
A physical assault on another individual by another is just that.
Marriage or being in some type of relationship with the abuser is not a mitigating circumstance and should never be.
The first priority should be the person being assaulted.
Recently, the former wife of an ex-Parliamentarian was beaten by her husband in their suburban home in Port Moresby. She was bloodied, bruised and traumatised by the incident.
Her husband is a lawyer of all things, someone who should know better.
The sad reality is that this one incident is perhaps one of many that took place over the last week around the country.
This is not the first time a person from this profession has been guilty of spousal abuse.
Another lawyer is currently behind bars as investigations are being carried out on the shooting death of his wife and the young man’s apparent part in it.
It is a concern when highly educated men in this country start beating their wives and using other extreme measures without worrying about the moral, physical or legal consequences.
Earlier in the year, an accountant in Port Moresby viciously assaulted his live-in girl friend apparently because she was seen talking with a male friend at a night club.
The assailant has children from a previous marriage and had little excuse or provocation for the beating he gave to the young woman which left her in the intensive care unit at the Port Moresby General Hospital for several days.
First of all, before we condemn the poor attitude towards women on display here, it is worth reminding oneself that this problem is by no means isolated to this country.
The fact is violence against women is perpetrated by men everywhere, in every country, and perhaps in every society.
It is a problem of humanity but in these modern times we are taught that to hit a woman is a sign of weakness and that to be a real man one must resort to other means to resolve conflict or disagreements.
In countries such as Australia, the US, the United Kingdom and other western democracies, men who prey on their wives or partners in this manner are despised by the community.
There is a certain stigma associated with being a wife beater or someone who has committed violence against women.
Next to violence against children and other defenceless and weaker members of society, violence against women is a big issue and governments have laws protect abused spouses and women.
Attitudes toward women in this country need to change and do so in a hurry.
It is never alright to abuse a wife or female friend physically, emotionally, sexually and in any other form that deprives them of their rights.
The police have a big role to play in helping change the attitudes of people to this issue by taking it seriously themselves.
Any instance of violence against women that is not treated with the full commitment and attention of law enforcers is a step back for women in this country. It perpetuates the general disregard for women by the wider community and sends a clear message to men out there that it is an acceptable practice despite it being a morally reprehensible act.