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Concern as illegal booze in Bougainville triggers violence


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 province, says the illegal manufacture of homebrew seems worse than in previous years.

She says she is particularly worried by the numbers of young people consuming the drink and the threat it poses to the peace process.

"Living in the village and I see so many women, families are brewing homebrew alcohol and that is easily accessible by young people,” Ms Hakena said.

“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."

Ms Hakena says attempts by police to try and curb the practice by stopping people from accessing yeast or by removing their gas bottles are easily got around.

Previously, Bougainville vice president Patrick Nisira had exposed the rampant use of marijuana in the province.

Mr Nisira said marijuana was the single biggest problem facing the province with up to 80% of people smoking it.

Ms Hakena agreed and said, coupled with homebrew, marijuana was at the root of much of the domestic violence in the province.

She said the plant grows easily and is sold at the roadside by people with little else to sell.

Ms Hakena called for more effort to go into finding work opportunities for the province's youth.

"Small income generating projects may be the way forward for young people,” she said at the time.

“People are [taking drugs] because there is nothing on the ground for them."


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