Child abuse ‘part of life’ in PNG

National

By OLIVE SUKUN
CHILD abuse has become so common in Papua New Guinea that it is part of everyday life, a workshop at the University of PNG heard.
Pikinini Watch PNG told the workshop that the rate of abuse is among the highest in the world outside a conflict zone.
Most children in this country are brought up seeing their mothers and siblings being regularly beaten, the organisation said. The workshop conducted on March 23 by Pikinini Watch PNG involving final-year psychology students focused on child protection.
“Child abuse is almost normal in the country,” said Zohra Johnwell, of Pikinini Watch PNG, “meaning that it is so common.”
According to the organisation, child labour is different from child work. Child labour is seen as loads of work given to a child that is not fitting or appropriate. For example, a six-year-old child taking care of a baby is child abuse but in most cases in PNG it is very common.
Child work on the other hand is work given to a child that is appropriate for their age, like asking a five-year-old to put away his or her dirty clothes in the laundry basket, the workshop heard.
Zohra said PNG children not only faced abuse but were afraid to speak up about it.
More than half of all Medecins Sans Frontiers consultations for survivors of sexual violence in Tari and Port Moresby in 2014 and 2015 were with children.
Another thing Zohra highlighted, was a 2009 investigation in Papua New Guinea against Australian volunteers here for international development work who were accused of child exploitation by taking images of young girls. Child abuse, neglect, child protection regulation and laws were some of the topics discussed at the workshop.
Pikinini Watch PNG hopes to help its targeted audience, adults and parents especially, to change what has become naturally normal in everyday Papua New Guinea society, for children to be abused.
The “offence cycle” used to analyse a sex offender shows that offenders go through a planned process and don’t just do what they do to children.

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