PORT MORESBY – A mob of angry male students has disrupted a protest and threatened women objecting to sexual harassment at the University of Papua New Guinea.
The male mob also physically harassed and abused media workers covering the event.
For many years, female students have experienced persistent sexual harassment on UPNG’s Waigani campus.
The abusive treatment roared into public view after a female student was held without her consent and assaulted by a group of 10 male students near a female dormitory.
A friend of the victim took to Facebook to condemned the assault and the post went viral and drew much public criticism of the male students.
Female students responded to the incident by organising a peaceful protest at the Waigani campus on Tuesday, inviting the media to cover the event.
Clad in black, the woman demanded that the university guarantee their safety on campus
The women demanded that the UPNG administration take action against the male students responsible for the harassment.
They were led by Nancy Poglau, female vice president of the students’ representative council, who said there had been sexual harassment of female students over many years.
“We want to address this issue. We want our voices to be heard,” an emotional Ms Poglau said.
“We came to UPNG because of our knowledge and why are you harassing us?
“Most male students don’t harass females but those few doing this [should] see us as your sisters and mothers.
“We must put to an end to this issue,” she said.
The women’s protest angered male students and a mob formed and disrupted the protest.
It also abused and physically harassed media personnel who were chased to another campus building.
University security and administration personnel at the protest were overwhelmed by the mob.
The angry male students demanded that the media not report on the issue claiming it was “an internal matter to be dealt with by the UPNG administration”.
Meanwhile, governors Peter Ipatas (Enga) and Gary Juffa (Oro) have urged prime minister James Marape to ask the Australian government to send police to assist Papua New Guinea’s under-strength constabulary.
“There is lawlessness everywhere and it is affecting all aspects of development,” Juffa said.
“We need to protect vulnerable people.”
The United Nations recommends there should be a ratio of one police officer for every 400 people. In PNG the ratio is one for every 1,200 people.
Sources: PNG Bulletin Online, Loop PNG