26 Mar 2012

UN Rapporteur on violence against women details grim situation in PNG

8:38 pm on 26 March 2012

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, says violence against women is a pervasive phenomenon in Papua New Guinea.

She has just completed an official country mission to PNG and found, through interviews, that violence against women typically begins in the home.

Ms Manjoo found domestic violence is perceived as a normal aspect of a woman's life and a family matter that should not be discussed publicly.

She says this means the victims are unwilling to disclose or report the suffering they are encountering, while there is little support from the wider family and community.

Ms Manjoo says she received alarming reports of violence perpetrated against persons accused of sorcery, with women affected disproportionally, particularly widows or other women with no family to protect them.

She says during her time in the Highlands region, she witnessed the brutality of the assaults perpetrated against suspected sorcerers, which in many cases include torture, rape, mutilations and murder.

Ms Manjoo says she hopes that relevant and much needed laws are passed soon, that existing laws are adequately enforced and that accountability, rather than impunity, becomes the norm for all acts of violence against women.