Papua New Guinea: Services for Domestic and Sexual Violence Survivors Lacking
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 12:15 PM

A recent report by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) stresses that medical and psychological needs of survivors of domestic and sexual violence are being neglected in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The country has a high rate of gender-based violence; 70 percent of women have been physically abused by their husbands according to the PNG Law Reform Commission, and between January 2008 and October 2011 MSF treated more than 11,000 survivors of domestic or sexual violence.

Domestic violence is illegal under PNG’s Criminal Code. Ume Wainetti, head of the Family and Sexual Action Committee, a government program set up to address gender violence, explained that in 2002, parliament passed amendments to the criminal code to protect women from domestic violence, sexual violence, and marital rape. However, according to the Social Institutions and Gender Index of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development abusers can act with impunity as the law is rarely enforced. Domestic violence is considered by many in the country to be a private matter, and survivors who seek medical care will often have only major physical injuries treated and then be sent back home to face more abuse. Psychological and emotional trauma as well as less visible physical injuries are left unaddressed.  Moreover, due to lack of funding many shelters for abused women have closed, and there is only one shelter in the capital that can consistently provide services. 

Compiled from: Papua New Guinea: Gender-based violence left untreated, IRIN (8 March 2012).