The National, Thursday 9th May 2013
AN air of fear pervades this nation.
Almost everyone, particularly if one is female, is scared.
Your eyes are always scanning to see who is walking up beside or behind you and your grip tightens on your bag or purse, pressing it hard to your body.
It is the fear of having your bag or purse snatched.
And you remember warnings from relatives and friends that for your safety, it is better to just let the rascals take it because if they are armed – with knife, screwdriver or even a gun – they could use it on you.
Why can’t women in PNG just carry their bags or bilums on their shoulders, walk out of their homes or offices without worrying about who is behind them
or walking towards them.
Even a female driver has to be on full alert all the time when on the road.
If this is the scenario we live in today, what will it be like for our daughters in 10, 20 years time?
Recently, a spate of crimes against women caused a furore in the local media and drew international attention.
The spotlight was once again turned on all the forms of violence women of this country are having to endure.
While there are varying degrees of abuse that women suffer in their homes and workplaces, it goes without saying that women
find themselves under threat everywhere.
Remember the brutal killing of the young mother in Lae last month, the rape of the American scientist, the burning of women accused of practising sorcery?
The list goes on and on.
The barbaric assaults defy all boundaries of humanity.
Besides these, there are many faceless and nameless women who face violence daily in their homes and societies.
Some speak up, but most bury their voices for fear of a backlash.
Gender equality is far from achieved, however.
We still face unconscionable levels of discrimination and violence against women.
The stark reality is that women are a vulnerable group.
Violence against women is a crime.
And yet it is a global phenomenon.
It happens in every country in the world, in every echelon of society.
According to UN Women, globally, up to six out of every 10 women experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.
Violence in any form is deplorable.
No justification can absolve perpetrators of such crimes.
If you have been abused, find the courage to fight back.
Seek help from trusted friends, relatives, or support groups.
You are not alone in your fight against violence.
Find your voice through these encouraging quotes.
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher once said: “In politics if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”
And American social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early women’s rights movement Elizabeth Cady Stanton said: “Because man and woman are the complement of one another, we need woman’s thought in national affairs to make a safe and stable government.”
People from all walks of life will gather in their respective areas on May 14 and 15 to participate in the National Haus Krai event, a stop work demonstration to mourn the women, mothers, sisters, aunt, daughters and grandmothers who have been killed in brutal attacks, rapes and sorcery- and witchcraft-related accusations.
This symbolic act of solidarity is meant to call upon the government and the nation to take serious action to address these issues.
The general consensus is that the passing of policies and legislation by the government is not the only thing it should be responsible for.
These laws and policies have no teeth because the perpetrators are not even caught let alone prosecuted.
They are still out there.
The haus krai organisers are calling on everyone in PNG to rise up against this evil and join the fight; we cannot sit back and let it destroy this nation.
Similar to the One Billion Rising campaign, the National Haus Krai is just a beginning.
It is not the end of a struggle but the escalation of it.
NOW is the time to enact change.
NOW is the time to harness the power of your activism to make a change for a better nation.