Protect victims with structured approach

Editorial

WE preach about the system of help available to assist those in violent relationships but in reality, the process is not encouraging and many give up.
Domestic violence for that matter will continue to be an issue unless the Government works in partnership with concerned stakeholders and partners.
Former governments have failed to protect victims of family violence.
Women are left unprotected, even when they have gone to great lengths to seek help.
Survivors have been neglected, their need for safety, services and justice often leaves them with no choice but to live with abusive partners.
We have reported especially on women giving up hope while waiting for assistance at police stations.
There should be a standard guide made public informing victims of violence on how they can seek help – referral pathways.
Saying it on paper is easier said than actually having the services and people available to assist.
We acknowledge the support from our overseas donors especially on the technical help in setting up the process.
Those in the system will say there are services for survivors of family and sexual violence with referral pathways already available – the police (family sexual violence unit), the health sector response, family support centre, village court safe houses, and legal support from public solicitors, public prosecutors and churches.
The question is how effective are these services? Are they accessible at any time of the day/night?
Is there a section in respective hospitals for victims where they are attended to and issued a medical report to support their police complaints?
What about counsellors?
They should be available to quickly assess the cases and advise police.
Some may need to spend a night or two at a safe house.
It is already traumatising and many victims are emotionally affected; and that is the most dangerous part of it all. We can boast about such services but if it not assessable then it is time we relook at our strategies in tackling this complex issue.
Let us not forget that those who provide such services should be financially supported in terms of training, properly compensated for the hours they put and their safety guaranteed.
It is time the family and sexual violence unit in the police department is accorded the recognition it deserves to become a directorate of the PNG Royal Constabulary.
Police officers should attend to the victims immediately, make an initial report, take them to the hospital and ensure they are attended to and are safe and then return to the station to complete the report with the medical report as evidence. The work of unit which was established in 2009 had been funded by the Australian Federal Police and other donor agencies.
Reality but quite frustrating is that the constabulary does not have a structure for the family and sexual violence unit.
Time to change the unit into a fully-fledged directorate within the crimes division of the Royal PNG Constabulary structure.
If there is no structure then obviously there will be no visible clear pathways.
If this government is serious about the welfare of women and children to address family and sexual violence, funding should be allocated with strings attached that it should only be used on this issue and not diverted elsewhere.

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