Papua New Guinea -
According to the statistics, in Papua New Guinea two thirds of women are constantly exposed to domestic violence and about 50% of women become victims of sexual assaults (in Highlands Region it goes up to 97%). Local men don’t respect their meris (“meri” in Pidgin means “woman”), constantly beating them, often using bush knives and axes. The main danger comes from the Raskol gangs that rule the settlements in the capital city. Raping women is a “must” for the young members of the gang. In most Papua tribes, when a boy wants to become a man, he should go to enemy’s village and kill a pig. After that, his community will accept him as an adult. In industrial Port Moresby women have replaced pigs.
Often violence against women in PNG takes savage forms. Sorcery-related brutality is widespread all around the country, but mostly in rural areas of the Highlands region. In case of an unexpected death in a village, its recidents accuse a random woman (usually a relative of the dead person) and torture her, forcing to admit that she is a witch. Many of these “punishments” result in the victim’s death. But even if the woman survives, she would be expelled from the community for good. The PNG Government neither has a program of helping victims of sorcery-related violence nor provides any shelter for those women. Participants of such executions usually never get punishment, even in case of the death of their victims.
While in traditional villages such attitudes toward women can be attributed to tribal culture, today in Port Moresby violence against women shocks modern society.
Written and photographed by: Vlad Sokhin