IT is a shame that females students at the University of PNG (UPNG) have been intimidated and harassed for some time. They have either been verbally or physically assaulted at different locations and times. The harassments include grabbing the girls, pulling of hand, forcefully hugging a girl, swearing and name calling. No male will want this to happen to their female relatives. The girls have the right to raise their concern on security and their safety on campus, a place where they live in away from home. They are supposed to feel safe or not be intimidated by anyone or in any form. And the day they chose to speak out through a protest, stones were thrown at them with a group of men hurling abuses at the girls. Even the media personnel who went to cover the protest were verbally and physically harassed and the camera crew chased with punches thrown in their direction. UPNG officials present to receive the petition could do little as they were outnumbered by the rowdy group, who are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow. Looks to be a backward trend there. Papua New Guinea will not change until we can change our attitude because that is our biggest problem as a nation – our attitude. Our leaders can talk about law and order as much as they like, but we cannot change until they themselves have changed. It is becoming a very frightening trend today to see bad behaviours and attitudes displayed by Papua New Guineans in almost every corner of the country. Not a day goes without witnessing a bad behaviour. It is like a culture in PNG for people to behave indecently in front of others and think that it is okay to do so. Every day you see and hear people:
- OPENLY swearing by mentioning female genitals;
PEOPLE drinking beer in public;
- NOISE, loud music in homes and community, worst still on weekends and pay days;
- SLEEPING and loitering in bus stops and market places;
- CARRYING boom boxes with loud music;
- BUS stops no longer bus stops but mini markets with associated petty crimes;
- BUS drivers and boss crew harassing passengers; and,
- DRIVING under influence of alcohol and the list is endless.
Many of these bad behaviours and attitudes by adults have already become standards and a culture in younger generation today and it is not hard to see because they are already doing them and will continue to influence generations in future. In a country like PNG, where law enforcement is not strong, it is a very risky trend if not dealt with immediately as it will become serious problems in future and difficult to contain. Life may never be safe for the future generations. It is better to be proactive and reactive. Laws have to be reviewed in light of continuous changing behavioural patterns of the people and strictly enforced by relevant authorities to target, apprehend and arrest people who misbehave inappropriately in communities. To be the “Richest black Christian nation” in the world, we also need to live in a country that is safe, secure, healthy and environmentally-friendly. Make this a foundation in people’s lives so they appreciate benefits, take ownership of changes and participate meaningfully to achieve goals and visions in life. Negative attitude and behaviour are the greatest obstacles to development in Papua New Guinea.