PNG needs legislation to protect women and girls against human trafficking writes ELIZABETH MIAE
THE man is a 60-year-old grandfather, a landowner from Lake Kutubu-Gas project area.
The girl comes from the Waiori area in Central province.
In the Highlands it is common for men to marry girls aged between 14 -16. Most times young girls are attracted to men who have financial prospects and their parents “sell” their daughters into such relationships.
In this particular case the sale of this young Waiori girl to the old landowner was negotiated by a Gulf province man who had organized such deals a number of times.
Her sale is not the first, there are many unreported cases from where she comes from.
The young girl refused to go with the old man when she realized what was happening, but she was badly beaten and traveled to Port Moresby under duress.
Sold into domestic labor and sexual servitude, she lived in a house with the old man’s relatives and worked, sometimes from 6am till midnight. The old man’s wife confronted and fought him when she heard he had taken a new wife.
While they fought, the child bride took the opportunity to run away and ended up, quite by chance in the yard of Patrina Dikin, Coordinator of Community Policing in Port Moresby
Later the Highlands wife turned up and tried to get back the girl. The husband complained that he had paid K2, 000 for her and he offered a little more to get her back. The young girl refused to go. The police were called in but the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) refused to arrest the man, on the basis of lack of evidence. The young girl now lives in fear, she cannot walk freely and must always be accompanied by Ms Dikin.
The girl in this story is a statistic in human trafficking, a crime which is increasing in PNG
With poverty and unemployment on the rise in urban settlements, remote villages and households many unfortunate families have resorted to selling their daughters/sisters to make ends meet.
Young girls are being sold to become child brides, prostitutes, slaves and are being used in child pornography.
Human trafficking’ is the practice of people being tricked, lured or forced out from their home or country, and to work with no or low payment or on terms which are highly exploitative. The practice is considered to be trade or commercial which has many features of slavery and is illegal in most countries. Men, women and children can fall victims to human trafficking. Traffickers originate from countries around the world but can also be citizens.
Sex trafficking of women and girls is on the rise and has been described by human rights groups as slavery’s new face.
According to Soroptimist International (Port Moresby) PNG is a destination country for women and young girls trafficked from Malaysia, the Philipines, Thailand and China, for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.
This was revealed during a forum last November in observation of the 20 days of Human Rights Activism.
During the forum stories were told of how young girls from poor villages were being sold to traffickers who used them as sex slaves for expatriate men. It was said that traffickers who pay for women and young girls promised them and their families a brighter future in education, employment and money but this was not always the case. In the end, when the victims are neglected by their perpetrators, they were reluctant to go back to their families.
A report by HELP Resources Inc. with the support of UNICEF (PNG) in 2005 titled ‘A Situational Analysis of Child Sexual Abuse & the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children’, states women and young girls are trafficked and sex is traded in clubs, bars and hotels, the perpetrators are the moneyed men who the victims refer to as ‘top-shots’, nationals in senior government and political roles, local businessmen as well as teachers and NGO workers.
The report added that the victims are commoditized or exploited in various ways including: bar dancing, strip shows, pole dancing, mirror dancing, mud wrestling, wet t-shirt competitions, bikini girl competitions and island girl competitions.
In PNG, there is no proper legislation to prosecute human traffickers. Country representative of Soroptimist International; Florence Bunari said that offenders can be prosecuted under the Slavery Act in PNG but the problem was that people still did not know their basic human rights.
In order for proper legislation to be enacted, there needed to be hard evidence such as the compilation of data and analysis of human trafficking victims and survivors in the country. This is currently lacking.
“PNG does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the current legal framework does not contain elements of crimes that characterise trafficking; the government lacks victim protection services or a systematic procedure to identify victims of trafficking; the government did not prosecute anyone in 2007 for trafficking; Papua New Guinea has not ratified the 2000 UN Trafficking In Persons Protocol (2008).” Source: CIA-The World Fact Book.
The United Nations’ report; Global Report on Trafficking In Persons, agrees with previous estimates from the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office (TIP) that sex trafficking accounts for nearly 80% of human trafficking with the victims-women and girls.
“What is not surprising is that most of the female traffickers are former victims of trafficking or former prostituted girls or women,” Senior Fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute in the US, Janice Shaw Crouse stated in her study.
The LaHaye Institute is the think tank for Concerned Women for America. It’s a recognized authority on sex trafficking, the United Nations, U.S. domestic issues as well as national and international cultural, children’s and women’s concerns. Janice Shaw Crouse has twice served as an official US delegate to the United Nations.
“Those of us who have been in the trenches fighting against the scourge of human trafficking know the overwhelming challenges that face those who escape or are rescued from sex slavery; the road back to normalcy is long and the emotional and psychological ties to the slave master are difficult to break. The feeling that there is no escape or nowhere else to go can be overwhelming and it draws girls back into the trap of slavery,” she wrote.
In her study, Ms. Crouse gives an insight to how the victim becomes emotionally attached to her perpetrator that she cannot escape even when there are opportunities. Even when they (victims) are rescued they would refuse to reveal the identities of their perpetrators or where they were kept. Some refuse to go back to their families and some go to the extent of committing suicide.
“One of the prime tools used by the pimp is the creation of emotional ties which convince the victim that there is no turning back. Thus their mode of operation is to separate the victim from everything that is familiar, cruelly bring the victim to submission through assaults and beatings after which they take control of the victim’s life in ways that make her terrified,” Ms. Crouse explains.
She added that in some cases the girls and women turn from victim to victimizer. A pimp will sometimes use an older prostitute to gain a girl’s trust and convince her to come along with them often with the promise of modeling or movie opportunities.
“Whether the pimp is a man or a woman is really irrelevant: Anyone who enslaves another human being and uses them as a commercial commodity is committing a heinous crime and needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
PNG is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)-it’s time the government through its law enforcement agencies, NGOs and human rights groups put this convention into action.