How do we protect our women?


THE only way to stop stealing is to impose penalties which can be a lesson to others who are stealing from innocent people.
Magistrate Cosmas Bidar, of the Waigani Committal Court, last week sentenced two men to prison with hard labour for stealing a woman’s bilum.
One does not have to look far to see that cases of theft are on the rise.
We agree with Magistrate Bidar that cases of stealing by means of snatching bags and pick-pocketing at bus stops and roadsides have increased in the recent years.
And we agree that the courts should impose tough penalties on people who steal.
Realistically, it will not stop people stealing, but at least the penalty imposed on thieves and robbers can be a lesson and a deterrent to others so that innocent people are protected as they go about their everyday life.
If thievery was part of a ladder, stealing bags would probably be ranked in the middle rungs, which makes it serious.
And it is sad that such crimes are committed especially against the vulnerable in society – the elderly, children and women.
The spotlight this month is once again on women and girls and all forms of violence against them.
While there are varying degrees of abuse that women suffer in their homes and workplace, it goes without saying that women find themselves threatened everywhere. Women in Papua New Guinea, as elsewhere in the world, should have the freedom to move around freely without fear.
It is unfair that women in PNG do not experience the freedom they deserve because men do not protect and respect them.
Why do our mothers, sisters and daughters, when they leave home, always have to be on the lookout to see who is nearby, either walking beside or behind them.
In public, one can clearly see women holding on tight to their bags or purse, usually pressed against their body. That is how fearful they are of being robbed in a public place in broad daylight.
Even a female driver has to be alert all the time when on the road. If this is what we are going through today and are failing to address it, then imagine what life will be like for our daughters in 10 or 20 years’ time.
Take for instance the burning of women accused of practising sorcery. This barbaric assault on the innocent defies comprehension.
Many more faceless and nameless women face violence daily in their homes and society. Some speak up, but most bury their voice for fear of backlash.
This country continues to struggle with gender equality, with women and girls continuing to face discrimination and violence daily.
In this country we have a culture that makes women and girls vulnerable to violence and abuse, and while we may argue that this is something that women and girls face all over the world, we need to stand together, especially as men, to bring this to a stop. Our mothers, daughters, sisters and aunties need to be protected.
Our only resort is the law and we must ensure that offenders are brought to justice and then push for the courts to punish them to the fullest extent of the law.

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