Violence survivors still lack support


DOMESTIC and family violence is epidemic worldwide and Papua New Guinea is no exception.
Countries have systems in place to address this issue.
In PNG, we should also have system of help available to assist any of those in a violent relationship.
However, in reality, the process is not encouraging and many give up.
Despite, legislations, rules and process on matters relating to gender-based violence being amended to be user friendly in terms of taking matters to courts, there is still more work to be done.
Director of the Family and Sexual Violence Unit (FSVU) admits that the unit lacks proper structure to make reports and provide support for victims.
The unit is understaffed and had yet to have positions approved by the Department of Community Development with the majority of staff at the nine units around Port Moresby comprised of volunteers.
All this point back to funding.
Funding is needed to support all efforts to prevent and end violence against women, girls, and the old and even men.
Domestic violence will continue to be an issue unless the Government works in partnership with concerned stakeholders and partners.
Counter funding must be provided.
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.
Governments have neglected survivors’ needs for safety, services and justice, and found women often had 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, then actually having the services and people available to assist.
We acknowledge the support from our overseas donor especially on the technical help in setting up the process.
The challenge now is on the new Government to provide reliable and steady funding so the technical plans actually come into realism. Those who 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?
Are there sections at the respective hospitals for victims, where they are attended to and issued a medical report to support their police complaints?
What about counsellors?
They must 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 must be financially supported in terms of training, properly compensated for the hours they put and their safety also guaranteed.
It is time the FSVU in the police department is accorded the recognition it deserves to become a directorate of the PNG Royal Constabulary.
If this government is serious about the welfare of women and children to address family and sexual violence, funding must be allocated with strings attached that it must only be used on this issue and not diverted elsewhere.