Sex law review to protect our people

Briefs, Letters

THE bishop of Vanimo has made some suggestions and I am grateful to all suggestions.
I assure Bishop Bonivento that the work on reviewing laws to do with sexual behaviour is not being done in a hurry or without consultation. 
I encourage the bishop to ensure that he contributes to the consultative process that will be put in place by the Law Reform Commission.
The reform process on sex-related laws began in the late 1990s with an extensive process of consultation resulting in the protective laws that I passed in 2002. 
These laws strengthened and amended the laws on rape, sexual violence and all forms of child sexual exploitation.  
Rape laws now include the rape of males, of married women by their husbands and the use of any object being inserted to violate that person.    
There are now laws that criminalise child prostitution (the client or pimp to be charged), child pornography and strengthen incest laws.  
Awareness and implementation of these laws has been slow but is gradually improving.
It is known globally and, in PNG too, that some sex workers (female and male) do so by choice and some because of poverty. 
To help provide alternate income-generating possibilities, I have constantly championed, through legislation and policy, the strengthening of the informal economy to provide alternatives for cash income.
Bishop Bonivento refers to the challenge of the HIV/AIDS epidemic that we face as a nation. 
It is for this very reason that we are now looking at the matter of the punitive laws that criminalise sex work and homosexuality.    
While people are classified as criminals, it is hard to ensure that they follow health seeking sexual behaviours.   
The fact is that sex work and homosexual behaviour will continue to occur in spite of laws and the most at risk in PNG has been found to be faithful wives.  
It is imperative that we, Papua New Guineans, do all we can to ensure that all sexual behaviour is safe.
I want to make it clear that I am not making any moral judgement (neither condoning nor condemning behaviours). 
I leave moral judgements in the hands of the church and look forward to their active participation as we deal with a very complex and sensitive challenge facing our nation.


Carol Kidu
Port Moresby