By PETER WARI
A POLICEWOMAN from Southern Highlands is looking forward to better helping children, young girls and mothers affected by family and sexual violence (FSV) after graduating with a diploma in guidance and counselling.
Monica Paulus, 31, a mother of two from Tepe village in Imbonggu, has provided FSV counselling services while at the Mendi police station and Poroma police station in Nipa-Kutubu district.
She graduated last month from the University of Goroka (UOG).
In her nine years of work experience, she saw the need to gain more knowledge to work closely with agencies within the justice system and other non-governmental organisations to improve the response to FSV and outcomes.
She said her passion to help survivors of FSV grew each time she spoke to bruised and battered women; they talked with fear as tears rolled down their cheeks when giving testimony of their ordeals and struggles.
Monica said she begun saving some of her salary and applied to UOG. She was accepted and did her first year in 2020.
“FSV is a big issue we have in the province and at the national level; it affects the whole family. It needs collaborative effort from all stakeholders,” she said.
“The most common type of violence in families were spousal violence and were women are subjected to physical violence.
“We all come from a community and we have witnessed families and relatives who were once victims of FSV.
“We need to carry out awareness and help by reporting to FSV centres,” she said.
Paulus said domestic violence had been trans-generational and embedded in the culture, women were seen as inferior; one major contributing factor is the bride price payment that gives men power to own women as their property.
“We have churches in every village that need to stand up and speak out against FSV with the support from community leaders.
“We have relatives of women, the recipient of bride price payments, they cannot continue to shut their mouths and say ‘it’s a family problem’ which is a widespread term used.
“But they do not understand that these women will suffer psychological consequences in the future if nothing is done,” she said.
Paulus comes from the Lower Mendi local level government. She is the third of seven children. She did her grades one to six at Sumia Primary School from 1991-1995, then was selected to Mogol Secondary and did her grades nine to 12. She was one of many students with an acceptable grade point accreditation (GPA) that missed out on a place at a tertiary institution because of limited spaces in 2007. She is a classmate of the reporter.
She stayed in the village in 2008 until an opportunity came the following year when she was recruited by the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary for training at Bomana Police Training College.
Her first posting was at Mendi police station.
“In my nine years as a police officer, I was mostly involved in FSV counselling, I did not have much experience but I managed it,” she said.
“I came across families that were survivors of emotional, physical and sexual abuses, I was focusing on their safety, recognising the difference of abuse and healthy relationships to assist in making decisions that will allow them to live violence free in the future.”
Paulus said sometimes people had to be responsible for their behaviour including positive problem-solving strategies and coping skills.
She said another major form of violence that was prevalent was the sorcery accusation related violence. She had dealt with some cases and during her two-year study at UOG, and some of the courses offered were on trauma, HIV and AIDS and other related cases.
Paulus said councillors, community leaders, educated elites and churches must work together to carryout awareness and help the survivors, and the Government should look at establishing and equipping family support centres.
“Together we can make a difference to give hope and freedom to our vulnerable sisters, daughters and mothers who are survivors of FSV,” she said.
By PETER WARI