PNG women demand violent public servants be sacked
Women in Papua New Guinea call for more action to combat soaring levels of gender based violence.
Women in Papua New Guinea are calling for public servants who attack women to lose their jobs.
Late last month PNG's Women in Leadership group presented its report on gender equity and social inclusion as part of its campaign to end soaring levels of violence.
Among other things, it calls for zero tolerance of violence against women in the public service.
Former PNG cabinet minister and long time women's advocate Dame Carol Kidu told Don Wiseman this is a policy that some departments have had for some time, though implementation remains a problem.
CAROL KIDU: There is work being done throughout various departments to work on this but actually changing behaviour is very difficult. This behaviour we are seeing now is not necessarily a reflection of traditional practices it is a reflection of a very confused society probably. And I have often said that in some ways people were, women were in some ways more protected but they, you know traditionally from violence than they are now particularly in an urban area things like that are very exposed and don't have their traditional protectors around them. I mean it is almost always women but I will say when I was a minister I had a situation where there was a woman coming in with a knife trying to attack her husband who was an employee and so it does go the other way as well and it should be a zero tolerance of all violence which is more normally against women but it isn't completely against women.
DON WISEMAN: When something like this is announced in PNG what sort of reaction is there amongst the male public servants?
CK: At that particular launching we had representatives from the male advocates group and that group is actually increasing in the public service. There is a group they call themselves male advocates against violence. I would like to use the same grouping for male advocates for women in leadership as well you know we shouldn't be doing all these separate groupings but you know I am going to be recommending that the same movement on male advocates against violence be used for promoting the concept for women in public leadership. So there are men who are rallying around this, the secretary for personnel management himself has become I would say a champion and he has admitted himself that he has changed considerably since having to take this carriage of this policy gender equality and social inclusion for his department and he has been a very good leader for the whole thing but it will take time to keep working on getting this thinking throughout the nation.
DW: So the gender equality and social inclusion initiative it's now I think six years old, it's gone through a few gestations hasn't it? It is still taking some time for the country to pick up.
CK: Yeah the problem is the lack of budgetary commitment to getting this policy in place. The financial constraints of all departments in PNG are facing at present with cuts in budget rather increases to accommodate new policies. And until now the budget frame worked for the GESII policy implementation has been implemented from development partner funds. The secretary and the minister, minister Sir Puka Temu are very proud of the policy and very aware of it and very aware that the prime minister made public commitments but I think putting their money where their mouth is is kind of hard at present. Many departments where told to cut considerable amounts, some departments had to cut by about 30 percent and so there is no scope to do new things. I would say that there is a genuine commitment from the leadership in this one I suppose though in the end it is one of those things that cannot depend upon leadership it has got to be coming from the people themselves.
DW: As the country becomes more educated and more urbanised are you starting to see improvements coming through at least in some areas?
CK: That is a catch 22 question I would say, I am not quite sure about how I would react to that because in some ways it is a whole thing of the urbanisation the rapid change going on that was seen as a, what you described as a horrific increase in violence in some areas of the country and in some rural areas you don't see it in this way. I mean when you travel to many areas of Papua New Guinea people live on resiliently and traditional patterns of protection for women and so on are still in place and we are still operating. So in some ways I don't see that urbanisation necessarily urbanisation increases, modernisation urbanisation is necessarily going to bring a solution because in some ways it complicates and confuses the situation. I think it is education, education, education. Educate our population as much as possible in both the old and the new and get some reflective analysis of getting the best from the old and the best from the new rather than the worst from each.
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