Paul Brockmann, who heads the Doctors Without Borders’ mission in PNG, said since December 2007 MSF had treated more than 18,000 women, children and men who had been raped, beaten and assaulted by family members, spouses, parents and others.
“It shows a really quite disturbing and shocking statistic about the number of those survivors that we treated who had been abducted or held in confinement, or threatened with a weapon as part of the assault,” he told AFP.
Of those treated, 5,350 had received a direct death threat, 557 had been abducted or confined, and in 5,459 cases the person was threatened with a weapon. In 2,800 instances, the patients were children.
Brockmann said the 18,000 people who came to MSF were seen at only two hospitals — one in the country’s second largest city of Lae and another in the small highlands community of Tari — meaning that many more victims must be present around the mountainous country of seven million people.
“It’s only the people who were physically or psychologically able to get to us,” he said, adding that barriers to seeking help included PNG’s poor roads and the costs involved.
“If this is happening in communities throughout the country, which I am certain it is, how many people out there aren’t receiving the service they need?” he said.
Brockmann said he believed the PNG government was serious about tackling the problem which was being discussed at a two-day meeting last week. It brought together medical, social, legal and police authorities in Port Moresby.