16 May 2013

O'Neill apologises for violence faced by women in PNG

5:04 am on 16 May 2013

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, has apologised for the violence faced by women in his country and pledged a crackdown on perpetrators including a return to the death penalty.

More than 1000 people - mostly women - gathered in Port Moresby's Sir John Guise Stadium for a national day of mourning, or "haus krai", over violence against women in Papua New Guinea.

PNG has been rocked in recent months by a series of internationally condemned attacks on women - including the burning murder of a young mother, the beheading of a former teacher, both women had been accused of sorcery, and the pack rape of an American academic.

Mr O'Neill said it is not acceptable in this day and age, and the Government stands with them.

He also expressed the Governments sympathy for all the victims of violence in communities throughout Papua New Guinea.

Mr O'Neill pledged to bring laws with tougher penalties, including the reintroduction of the death penalty, before the nation's Parliament in coming weeks.

The reforms will include life without parole for rapists and tougher drug and alcohol penalties.