WAIGANI - Drunkard students sexually assaulted a female student at the University of Papua New Guinea and on Monday 7 June the female students protested against sexual harassment, which is an ongoing issue.
They hosted a forum at the UPNG Forum Square to address the issue. The media present to cover the story were attacked and chased by the male students who didn’t want them to cover the meeting, ironically stating that it would portray a bad image of the institution.
Some said it was an ‘internal matter’. Journalists being attacked made the news in the evening, and next day newspapers had headlines like: ‘Home of Intellects or Thugs’.
The male students counter-protested arguing that not all male students harass female students. Their playcards had words like: ‘There are Good Men at UPNG’.
There were many views expressed on social media following this incident.
Here, two are reproduced: one by East Sepik Province Governor Allan Bird; the other by UPNG Political Science Lecturer, Michael Kabuni.
When I was in UPNG, we stood up for women, defended them and treated them with respect. Today these women call us brother still.
You are a good man when you stand up for those who are weaker then you. You are not a good man because you demand it.
What we have just witnessed this past week at UPNG shows very weak character and a lack of appreciation for what constitutes acceptable human behavior in our country.
During my time, girls could move around topless. Nobody groped them, ridiculed them or told them to cover up. There was nothing disrespectful about that. It was normal.
It seems some of our young men have adopted a Taliban mentality where women are supposed to cover from head to toe.
Need I remind you all that our ancestors wore only a loin cloth, shell kambang or mini grass skirt for the women and girls.
All right thinking citizens will criticize your behavior and rightly so. You have clearly demonstrated by your own behavior that you need a serious adjustment to your mental attitude.
Your ability to articulate arguments also needs improvement because there is nothing intelligent about it.
If there are any good men left in UPNG then we need to see you first of all apologise to our women and girls, the university lecturers and the country for your silly, thoughtless and unacceptable behavior.
The first act of a Good Man is to acknowledge when he is wrong, ask for forgiveness and make amends. Right the wrong.
Then we need you all to behave like good men so we can see it in your attitude. Treat women with respect.
If you say you are the elite, then act like it.
If you say you are the future leaders, act like it.
If you say you are a Good Man, then act like it.
Otherwise, the future leaders of PNG will not be coming from UPNG. You cannot be elite, you cannot be a leader if first of all you are not a Good Man.
A good man lives by a set of behavioural principles; it’s a way of life.
Respect is given because you earned it. You can’t demand respect by threats or intimidation because not everyone will be afraid of you.
The implication of what transpired at UPNG is immense.
One thing is for sure: if you are applying for a job in the next few years, and your competition is someone from Pacific Adventist University or Divine Word University, you stand very slim chance.
And the ‘good men’ left at UPNG are right to be concerned.
But counter-protesting is the stupidest of alternatives available.
If you only worked with the female victims, the security and administration to identify and bring those responsible to justice, you would have sent a very clear message that there are good men at UPNG.
The only evidence that you showed that good men do exist is a counter-protest.
I have friends from private and public sector. And what I hear is that you will have a very tough time trying to get employed in an already limited job market.
As of now, I’ve decided not to write any recommendation or reference for any male student who has taken a subject I taught, unless I know the person to be good and respectful.
I used to limit my recommendations to excellent academic performance (I’ve posted here before that I would only write references for those that scored Credit to High Distinction in my subject).
Now, I’m not writing references even if you attained an HD – not many get HDs anyway. If you’re a boom-box carrying, tribal-fighting, women-harassing coward, you have no place.
It’s going to be the same with many lecturers who you approach for references or recommendations. So if you are one of my students, and took part in the counter protest, don’t request a reference. I’m obliged to teach, not to pass you or write you a reference.
Character now counts.
Intelligence has failed us.