Homebrew on Bougainville raises Christmas concerns
Bougainville women's leader anxious about increased violence fostered by availability of home brew.
A Bougainville women's agency says there has been a surge in illicit alcohol use as Christmas approaches and more gender violence as a result.
Helen Hakena, who runs the Leitana Nehan Women's group in the autonomous Papua New
Guinea province, says the illegal manufacture of homebrew seems worse than previous years.
She told Don Wiseman she is particularly worried by a surge in violence involving young people.
HELEN HAKENA: Living in the village and I see so many women, families are brewing homebrew alcohol and that is easily accessible by young people, and beginning around two weeks ago there was a lot of drinking, fighting and that is causing a lot of concern for us mothers. And gender based violence has increased as well. Like in the last couple of days a lot of women, even though we have closed our office, we are still opening our doors. So we are very concerned. Instead of them preparing to celebrate this festive season well by buying good food or having small parties with their families, young men and young women are getting a lot of home brewed alcohol so that they can drink during the Christmas period, and that's not good at all for Bougainville, for the peace process here in Bougainville.
DON WISEMAN: It has always been a problem of course hasn't it? You are suggesting though that things are getting worse?
HH: It has been a problem all the time but I am seeing that there are so many issues that are related to alcohol like we have got these sorcery related incidents. They are taking alcohol so they can go and take revenge. So young people who take alcohol take it on themselves to go and sort out problems while they are under the influence of alcohol. So I have seen in the last couple of weeks that alcohol and drug related abuse, physical abuse, violence within families, and this weekend I have experienced it in the village with fights within families - alcohol and drug related- and it is a major concern for us women here, particularly at this time.
DW: There have attempts around other parts of Papua New Guinea and I think in southern Bougainville where they have tried to stop the homebrew being made. I think in southern Bougainville they were taking gas bottles away.
HH: It does not work at all even though police go out to the communities and get gas bottles from the communities. People are so creative that they make their own. They use kettles to boil and to brew home brew, so it is not working at all, even though there are laws and there are police men in the villages, it still does not work.
DW: In Northern Province police wanted to take yeast off people, that wouldn't have worked either would it.?
HH: Yeah they stopped shop keepers here from importing yeast, but it is not working at all. Yeast is still coming because the women need yeast to make bread, to make scones. So it is not working, even though there are laws for police to put a stop to these things, people know how to get them, people know how to smuggle yeast into Bougainville.
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