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Gender based violence and HIV in PNG

NUMEROUS STUDIES have established that gender based violence in PNG is a massive problem which severely affects the lives of many women and girls throughout the country.

It is also a major factor in the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Gender based violence refers to the various forms of violence which people, mainly women and girls, experience because of their gender.

It includes wife-beating and other physical violence, unwanted sexual behaviour, sexual abuse & exploitation of both girls and boys, sexual harassment in workplaces and schools, forced prostitution, incest, rape, and the sexual abuse of females by authorities.

International authorities agree that gender based violence is now one of the leading factors in the increased rates of HIV infection among women.

Violence against women and girls increases their vulnerability to HIV and violence is often part of the life of women who disclose their HIV status.

The number of HIV infections in PNG continues to increase with 5,084 newly diagnosed cases in 2008. There are three females for every two males infected, with most infections occurring through unprotected heterosexual sex.

Sexual harassment and abuse of women and girls by males in positions of authority in workplaces and schools and by the police, is common in PNG.

This is the reason why gender based violence is an important issue as it is a cause and a consequence for HIV infection.

Most abusers are male family members and neighbours. Women with a physically abusive partner have higher rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections than women whose partners are not physically abusive.

Women with a sexually abusive partner are twice as likely to be HIV positive as women whose partners are not sexually abusive. It is more common for women to experience forced sex in intimate relationships than to be raped outside of marriage or a relationship.

In its drive towards alleviating gender-based violence in the workplace, the Business Coalition Against HIV and AIDS (BAHA) advocates a compulsory clause in every HIV workplace policy on addressing gender based violence at work.

BAHA also carries out training and awareness sessions on gender-based violence and related topics.

Source: May 2010 newsletter of the Business Coalition Against HIV and AIDS (BAHA)


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Reginald Renagi

Melkelyn Kambibel - I do sympathise with you. I hope and pray that each new day will be filled with happiness and hope for a better future for all our women in PNG, and elsewhere in the world today.

Never give up hope.

And keep writing to this blog. We need more PNG women bloggers on PNG Attitude.

Melkelyn Kambibel

I live in a small district but I still do not feel free and safe moving around anytime I want to. Many women and girls where I live feel the same way I feel.

This is not fair. Women are part of this society,too and should enjoy life as it is.

Every night I hear women crying and shouting for help.
When will they only smile and look happy instead of being sad?

There was nothing we could do to help. But at times our own behaviours and actions invite violence .

It would be better to have self respect so that others can also respect us.

After all, as female citizens of this nation, we do have rights to fight against violence and descrimination against us.

Reginald Renagi

Grace - Good comments and never, ever give up, Grace.

We can change the whole situation and it will take time as many cultural barriers and obstacles will need to be dismantled to improve our people's quality of life in a modern PNG society.

Like many PNG men, I feel frustrated and share your sentiments. The gender based violence and other abuse towards our women and younger members of our society is prevalent in urban settlements as well in many rural communities.

Any social profiling will show that people of certain regions in PNG seem to accept gender based violence towards people of all sexes and especially towards women and young people as normal.

This is a worrying trend and must be stopped completely through ongoing community education improvement programs.

It will take another 100 years before PNG society totally becomes civilised and affluent like other countries.

Grace Gela

I live in the settlements of Port Moresby and I am helplessly seeing all these issues affecting our women and girls more like an everyday kind of thing. I am really sick to death.

Although, people are trying to assist in some ways to prevent or fight against violence, our women and girls really need to know what is happening to them and to know who they are and their value in the community.

It's kind of frustrating trying to talk to people who don't consider themselves as human beings of value.

Secondly, I think targeting young girls/women in educating them of the importance of being themselves is very important as they will understand and discipline themselves in activities which are not appropriate or misleading.

So many things to say here but, I will let go for the time being.

Reginald Renagi

The whole situation seems to be insurmountable. But all is not lost yet.

The future solution is time and more aggressive social policy intervention strategies by legitimate stakeholders in the fight against gender violence and HIV.

The PNG government must always be the lead agency and supported by industry, development partners and the community at large.

More time and money is required. The natonal effort must be a well coordinated one and specifically targetted at areas where positive results can be achieved to improve people's lives in future.

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