Social Concerns Notes – April 2013

A comment sent after the article on shortage of nursing staff in the March Notes. “After discussing some of your issues last night I was told one of the reasons why there is a shortage of nurses is the fact that new graduates cannot get registration. There are several around Moresby in secretarial position as after working for well over 12 months in a hospital without getting registration they gave up.”

The final report of the UN Special Rapporteur for Violence against Women in PNG is out and those interested can find it here:

http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Women/A-HRC-23-49-Add-2_en.pdf

Recommendations (to the PNG Government) include the following:
(g) Make the necessary amendments to the current Family Protection Bill to ensure that:
(i) Acts of economic violence are included, such as withholding food, retaining income from marketing and other activities, or preventing women’s access to their financial and other assets;
(ii) Emergency or expedited protection orders are easily obtainable by victims;
(iii) Protection orders do not impose any restrictions on victims;
(iv) Women victims are not compelled to provide testimony or evidence, or to participate in counselling and/or mediation without their consent;
(h) Enact the Family Protection Bill as a matter of priority;
(i) Include within national legislation the explicit prohibition and penalization of sexual harassment;
(j) Entirely repeal the Sorcery Act of 1971, as recommended by the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission, and ensure that all cases of assault or murder based on sorcery accusations are treated swiftly and effectively by the National Court;
(k) Adopt international standards and norms for the protection of women prisoners and detainees and incorporate these into the national legislation. The Government should ensure that women in prison receive adequate food and services, including physical and mental health care. Vocational training and income- generating activities should be offered to incarcerated women. Furthermore, the Government should guarantee the adequate care of children of incarcerated mothers. Alternatives to incarceration should be considered, particularly for women detainees who are primary caregivers of their children.
(l) Formalize and permanently integrate the Family and Sexual Violence Units into the structure and budget of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, including with adequate human and financial resources; and ensure their presence in police stations in all provinces;
(m) Strengthen the Family and Sexual Offence Unit within the Office of the Public Prosecutor by allocating adequate staff and resources and supporting the establishment of such units in provincial branches of the Office. Launch pilot programmes in courts, together with the Family and Sexual Offence Units, to adequately prosecute and punish perpetrators of violence against women;
(n) Demonstrate commitment and political will to regulate the operation of companies in remote provinces, including the fishing, logging and mining industries, by establishing adequate monitoring and inspection mechanisms, and investigating any allegations of violence against women committed by company employees. Regular inspections of nightclubs and bars should also be undertaken, to ensure women are not being sexually exploited in these businesses. These efforts should reflect the international human rights standards as per the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
(o) Review and make the necessary amendments to the human rights track within the Supreme and National Courts, to ensure that cases of violence against women are given priority and are resolved swiftly by the courts;
(p) Take measures to strengthen the provision of legal aid to women who have been subjected to violence, including women who have been charged with the murder of their abusers;
(q) In cooperation with women’s organizations and development partners, and as a matter of urgency, develop a project for the establishment of a government- run shelter for women victims of violence in the Highlands region;
(r) Establish a coordinated and integrated referral system to include all sectors, such as the health, police, legal, social welfare and education sectors, with a view to address the protection needs of women and girls who have been subjected to violence. Develop, to this end, the necessary regulations, protocols and instructions to provide clear guidance to service providers;
(s) Put in place emergency procedures to rescue and resettle women who are at risk of suffering sorcery-related violence in their communities;
(t) Establish and enforce sanctions against entities that charge women victims of violence for health services or medical reports;
(u) Cooperate closely with and provide support for non-governmental organizations, particularly those operating in remote regions, to ensure their full participation in all efforts aimed at eliminating violence against women.

UN Condemns Sorcery Killings

The National, 12th April, 2013
THE United Nations (UN) is deeply disturbed by the increasing reports of violence, torture and murder of persons accused of practicing sorcery around the country.
UN agencies functioning in Papua New Guinea said in a joint statement yesterday that they condemned and demanded an end to extra-judicial killings related to accusations of sorcery in PNG.
“These vigilante killings constitute murder and must not be treated with impunity,” their statement said.
“Thorough and fair investigations of such actions should be conducted and perpetrators tried in court accordingly.
“This year alone cases have been reported in the Highlands, Madang and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, thus it is an issue of national concern. 
“These reports raise grave concern that accusations of sorcery are used to justify arbitrary and inhumane acts of violence. 
“The UN strongly advocates that cultural and traditional beliefs can never be used to justify the murder, torture or brutal attack against another person. 
“All criminal cases should be pursued through the judicial system.”

UN: PNG govt, address sorcery now

Post Courier 12 April, 2013
The government of PNG is urged to uphold its commitments to protect the human rights of all its citizens enshrined in the PNG Constitution as well as carry out its international commitments. Multiple international bodies have recommended to the government of PNG to address the issue of extra-judicial torture and killings related to accusations of sorcery as a priority concern. 
Since 2010, these calls for action have been echoed by the UN Human Rights Council on the PNG Universal Periodic Review, the Recommendations on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Report on PNG by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the Report on PNG by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Womenand Girls. 
In February 2013 the Minister of Police also endorsed the COMMIT Campaign to end all forms of violence against women.

Amnesty International calls on end to sorcery-related violence

The National, 08th April, 2013
AMNESTY International has again started its calls to put an end to the sorcery-related violence taking place in Papua New Guinea. 
They resumed their action early April after receiving reports that six women had been tortured with hot irons during an Easter “sacrifice”.
Amnesty said the PNG police had been investigating the incidents. 
However, police in Port Moresby were not able to confirm that an investigation was taking place.

It was reported in The National that six women and a man who were accused of sorcery were tortured and referred to as Easter “sacrifices” in a Southern Highlands village.
Komape Lap said that he fought with the wild mob and had escaped from them but that he didn’t know what happened to the six women. 
Two of the women are Komape’s wives and have not been seen since the incident.

Sorcery related murders rise

Post Courier 26 April, 2013
EASTERN Highlands Provincial Police commander John Kale has confirmed that the number of sorcery related murders is increasing and called on the authorities to do something to end these senseless killings.
Commenting on a spate of sorcery related killings, especially in the Highlands, Mr Kale told the Post-Courier yesterday: “The number of sorcery related murders is getting out of hand and the authorities need to look for ways to prevent these senseless killings.” 
These murders are increasing alarmingly, with people being killed and dumped into gorges, rivers or burnt inside houses, especially in the Highlands region. 
These brutal murders committed through allegations alone are being taken as normal and are not reported to authorities and law enforcement agencies, especially those taking place in the rural and remote places. 
In some instances, family members are being killed and maimed for life as relatives of people who die of natural causes look for reasons and blame innocent people for the sudden deaths of relatives from natural causes. 
For example, three people were reportedly murdered in sorcery related attacks in Eastern Highlands and Jiwaka provinces in the last two weeks. 
A man in Banz in Jiwaka Province was murdered last week and another man was chopped to death over allegations of sorcery in Tumuki village, Okapa, in Eastern Highlands on Monday. 
The bodies of three women, also believed to have been murdered in sorcery related cases, were found in Kamaliku outside Goroka last week.

Women beheaded

Post Courier 8 April
SORCERY-related killing has again shown its ugly face, this time in Bougainville where two elderly women were be-headed on suspicion of practicing sorcery.
The incident occurred at Lopele Village, in the Bana District of South Bougainville on Thursday around 6pm.
Police confirmed the incident on Friday, describing the killing as ‘barbaric and senseless.’
The killing has shocked the people in the district and the region as a whole.
Police who were present at the scene watched helplessly and could not do anything as they were out-numbered by the angry Lopele villagers who were armed with five high-powered firearms, knives and axes.

Diocese response

Part of Response from Bishop Bernard Unabali, Catholic Bishop of Bougainville.
• Prayer groups/vigils for God’s answer/intervention
• Condem poison/ witchcraft belief
• Recognize poison/ witchcraft to be the work of the Devil (Core divide and rule tactic to implant ways to destroy relationships of community, respect, peace, harmony to hate, suspicion, jelousy etc)
• Stand by to support both sides but especially victims relief needs
• Help with ways to find justice including arrest of perpetrators and safety of victims
• Immediate action on formation of people on the “exposition of evil” in the lives of people in the diocese pastoral plan “Renewal into Balance Life” (especially spiritual understanding, ritual and other all rounded support)
• Help to lobby for law and justice

Law to deal with abuse

The National, 03rd April 2013
THE family protection bill when it becomes law will ensure perpetrators of domestic violence will be properly charged and dealt with, an official said.
Family sexual violence action committee national programme coordinator Ume Wainetti said currently there were no laws governing domestic violence.
Those accused of bashing up their partners are charged with 
common assault.
“Domestic violence is everybody’s business. Now the law is going to confirm that it is everybody’s business and we are really happy that the bill has been approved by the national executive council because it is an initiative of family sexual violence action committee,” she said.
“The family protection bill encompasses a lot of things which cover all forms of abuse including mental, physical or verbal abuse.”
She said it would enable various charges to be laid against perpetrators and accommodate interim protection orders and complement the Yumi Lukautim Pikinini Act.
“It is called family protection because it focuses on family and victims can be either female, male or even children,” she said.
“A wife can report her husband if he is not giving her money or constantly bashing her up or a man can report his wife for verbal abuse (coarse language) and the appropriate charges will be laid against her.

Teachers Call for Better Security

The National, 03/04/2013
Members of the Papua New Guinea Teachers Association (PNGTA) working in the remote highlands districts want better security to safeguard their lives. The teachers held a meeting in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands, last week after a teacher from Hela was attacked by criminals along the Ambua Gap in Tari. Police said the thugs thought that the teacher was carrying cash being the school’s allocation of the tuition-free fees. “Teachers are risking their lives and their families’ when they are posted to areas which are not safe. And people should respect such people who are sacrificing their lives to educate and develop a person to become a valuable resource in future,” Mondo said, adding that it was not the first time teachers had been attacked.

Mobile Pornography a concern: Report

Post Courier 11 April.
CHILDREN’S access to pornography brought about by the introduction of mobile phones and the internet is a big and growing concern in Papua New Guinea, according to the findings of a recent workshop.
This is one of the conclusions of a four-day workshop conducted by Family Sexual Violence Committee (FSVAC) in Porgera, Enga province at the end of last month (March).
 Speaking about the workshop, an FSVAC officer said traditional norms, especially the big-man mentality, and the access to mobile phones has increase gender based violence.
She pointed out that even kids are accessing pornography on their phones, which is a grave concern.

People’s Micro Bank a Hit

NBC Facebook Newspage, 10/04/2013

The newly opened People’s Micro Bank is experiencing an overwhelming turnout of customers. Within only three days of opening for business, it has recorded close to 1,000 customers. Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Dela-cruz says, it’s likely a second and third branch should be opened for Port Moresby alone. Dela-cruz says people turning out to open their accounts are from the informal sector. “We are really very excited because it’s a first time we see a large from informal sector, vendors, street sellers, small-medium enterprises (SME’s), business operators, Liklik Business operators come to open an account at Peoples Micro Bank. So far, close to a thousand customers have been served. That’s in a matter of three days”.

Another Port Moresby community bulldozed

PNG development blogs 19 April
The sudden and violent eviction—using bulldozers and armed police—of the residents of Port Moresby’s urban settlements is not new to the National Capital District (NCD). The State rhetoric surrounding evictions is usually about moving unlawful settlers from State land which has been bought by a private entity or sending a message to settlement dwellers that crime and filth, for which they are often blamed, will not be tolerated. In 2008 hundreds of people were left homeless when Tete settlement in the suburb of Gerehu was torched and bulldozed after the murder of a prominent businessman in that area. The State was sending a message to the settlement community to stop criminal activities.In 2012, around 2000 people’s homes were destroyed when another urban settlement, based at the foot of Paga hill, was bulldozed violently when the purported holders of the title tried to evict settlers who have been living there for decades.
For more, see http://devpolicy.org/another-port-moresby-community-bulldozed-2013040/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=9ae75ef1c6-Devpolicy_Blog_Digest_June7_1_2012&utm_medium=email

Compulsory school up to Grade 10 from 2014 (or is it Gd 8?)

The National, 15th April, 2013

EDUCATION for students attending elementary to Grade 10 will be compulsory from next year, says Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
And parents who fail to send their children to school will be charged and taken to court.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill issued the warning while addressing the annual general meeting of the PNG and Solomon Islands Catholic Bishops Conference in Madang last week.
O’Neill, emphasising government’s reforms on education, health, the judiciary and management of the country’s wealth, said it was time to go back to basics.
He said this meant going back to improving and decentralising systems that in the past failed to allow the smooth flow of services.
He said starting next year, parents who did not send their children to school “would be held accountable”.
“We have to get back to the basics.
“We need to adequately train and equip those in the front line who are responsible for the upkeep of the important pillars in our judiciary, health, education, natural resources and economy,” O’Neill said. 
He said the country had surplus wealth but that did not trickle down to the rural areas and nothing tangible came out of it.
“The management of the country’s wealth has gone to the dogs. We have so much wealth but in the last five years we have not built one school, hospital, bridge or road,” he said.
He thanked the Catholic church for its continued service in areas where the government has not provided.

PNG among Most Corrupt Countries

The National, 15th April, 2013
PAPUA New Guinea is rated 150 out of 176 most corrupt countries in the world, according to the International Corruption Perspective Index.
Snr Insp David Suagu from the Correctional Services Training College said these alarming statistics highlighted the need for stakeholders to refocus themselves and come up with ways to reduce corruption.
He was speaking last Thursday in Kokopo during the closing of a two-day anti-fraud and corruption workshop for Kerevat CS officers.

Suagu and six other trainers conducted the training.
The workshop covered what corruption was like in PNG compared to the world and how CS officers could address corruption and one of core areas looked at was assessing individual code of ethics.

K9bil Gone

The National, 12th April, 2013
A MINISTER last night revealed that K9 billion appears to have disappeared from government-held trust accounts between 2007 and 2011.
Works and Implementation Minister Francis Awesa said much of the money could have been applied to urgent infrastructure projects around the country.
Awesa said an investigation must be conducted and quickly to uncover where the money had disappeared to.
“Some K9 billion is missing in trust accounts,” Awesa said.
“Nobody can account for it. There are no records to verify how the funds were used.
”When my money from the LNG project comes in 2015, I don’t want the same thing to happen.
“We have missed out big whenever we took in big windfalls from major projects. I want to address issues of infrastructure,” he said. The minister made the same remarks when he addressed a gathering in Wabag, Enga, last Friday.
Last night Awesa said: “We seem to be forgiving and forgetting all the time even though we talk forever about corruption.”
In his own area, he said he had uncovered instances where companies and individuals had been double dipping in contracts.
He said if a donor funded a project, companies that won contracts would collect money from the donor and then go to treasury or finance departments with the same claim and, using their cohorts within the system, would extract payment and he would not tolerate such actions.

Govt Calls for Church Health Services Commitment

Post Courier 17 April
THE minister for Health and HIV AIDS has called for church health services to stand committed with the government to deliver much needed health service to the people of Papua New Guinea.
Speaking at the 43rd Church Health Services annual conference in Port Moresby yesterday (Tuesday), Minister Michael Malabag said the O’Neill-Dion government is committed to making a difference to improving church health services, including church training institutions in the country.
This comes with a major shift in increased funding and other associated support. 
Churches health services account for 50 percent of total health services, 70-80 percent of rural health in some provinces, and have 720 facilities that include 17 rural hospitals. It accounts for 3557 church health workers and receives a support budget of K94 million per year from the government.
While commending churches for their services, he outlined government priorities that churches must support to implement. 
He said the health ministry has submitted to NEC for increased funding to support churches for unfunded facilities and staffing positions.
Other priorities include a centralised and computerised payroll system for CHS with support from the Department of Personnel Management.

Banks Record Healthy Profits

The National, 15 April 2013
Papua New Guinea’s top banks and financial services firms recorded healthy profits in 2012 citing overall strength of the local economy. On March 18, Bank South Pacific posted an operating profit before tax of K545.3 million for 2012, up 14.8% from 2011’s figure of K475 million. General finance company Credit Corporation saw profits rise some 250% year-on-year to reach K106.11 million last year. The company also reported that its core business cash operating profit, which includes financing, property and dividend revenues, increased from K74.16 million in 2011 to K80.79 million in 2012. Also, first listed investment company, Kina Asset Management, announced that it had recorded a net profit of K4.73 million last year following a significant improvement over the net loss of K9.43 million in 2011.
The gross domestic product growth is projected to fall from 9.2% in 2012 to 4% this year. And it is expected to jump to 20% in 2015 when the PNG LNG project reaches peak production.

Malaria a top Killer Disease

The National, 17 August 2013
Malaria remains one of the country’s major public health problems. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported last April on World Malaria Day that approximately 1.36 million people were diagnosed each year, according to the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund website. The website also quoted WHO’s report that malarial infection was the second highest leading reason for hospital admission. Under Round 8 Malaria Control Programme and Evaluation (2010-14) additional Global Fund funding has been secured to introduce new malaria treatment, improve prevention and control, distribute more treated mosquito nets and create more awareness. A household survey conducted by the PNG Institute of Medical Research between 2010 and 2011 showed that many people who experienced a fever did not seek specialist treatment at a health facility even when they had access to it. “Any person experiencing fever should seek a malaria test and if it is positive, a Mala-1 prescription from a health facility within 24 hours of symptom onset, so this is one area where improvement is needed,” Dr Justin Pulford, head of Population/Health and Demography Unit said. “All fever patients should get tested for malaria by a rapid test and all positive cases should be given Mala-1. No one should be given old anti-malarial medications (for example, chloroquine) anymore.”

Sexual violence has long-term effects

The National, 19th April 2013
PHYSICAL injuries suffered during sexual violence will heal but the psychological damage cannot heal completely, a community health worker and trainer says. 
“We can only help them to deal with their trauma through counseling but the mental scars remain with the victims forever,” Paul Kunump of the family support centre said.
The centre is funded by donors as an alternative public medical organisation in Lae.
Kunump told a workshop attended by Lae district community development officers that the physical treatment of a rape victim was immediate and short but the psychological part would be long and difficult.
“In 2011 we were taking in on average 45 rape cases a month and more than half involved children,” said Kunump.
He said there was an appalling child sexual abuse situation in Lae city.
“It could be more,” Kunump said, referring to unreported cases attributed to compensation payments.
He said sexual abuse of children was gradual and moved over time to more serious forms of abuse, including rape.
“Any form of penetration, whether sexual or with a finger, is still rape and must be reported. 
“Members of the community need to be trained to identify the symptoms early to prevent the abuse continuing,” Kunump said.
The trainer also urged authorities not to entertain compensation payments for sexual assault. 
“In our communities, the victim’s relatives will be up in arms and I know you leaders will have to mediate between the parties to maintain peace but do not accept compensation as payment for rape,” he said.
“The victim must be brought for treatment and the crime must be reported.”

Leadership leads to ‘Woman of Courage’

The National, 23rd April 2013
A LOCAL woman who was seen as a leader through her exceptional courage and leadership in advocating social progress was awarded “Women of Courage” in Port Moresby yesterday.
Matilda Pilacapio was given the award by the US ambassador Walter North and the occasion was witness by the students of Don Bosco Technical Secondary, Caritas Technical School and her family.
Pilacapio, from Milne Bay, grew up learning about environmental issues which motivated her to do more. 
She thanked the US embassy for the award and said it was unexpected. She encouraged students to value their education.
North said the US honoured women around the world who advocated human rights. And it took one person to make a change for their country and Matilda had been a grassroots leader. 
“It takes courage to pick yourself up and fight for the life of your fellow citizen,” he said. 
“There is something for each one of us to do and it is to achieve quality and justice.”

Porgera locals want review of deal

The National, 23rd April 2013
PORGERA mine landowners in Enga have called on the government and the miner to explain the prolonged delay in reviewing the mining agreement.
They are concerned that many outstanding land and environmental issues needed to be resolved.
Porgera Landowner Association chairman Mark Tony Ekepa said they were affected by outstanding issues such as tailings disposal, environment damages, industrial risk accident and injuries and local workers employment conditions.
“The Porgera mine agreement should also cater for infrastructure development programmes, local business spin-offs and balance distributions of wealth creation but that have all been denied under the pretext of delaying the mine review,” he said.
“The review exercise is the only option for check and balance that will examine adequate and accurate process for the stakeholders’ benefits, including the landowners’ welfare since 1989.” 
He said the state through its agencies, were not complying with the conditions of the mining agreement.
“We want the state through the Department of Mining and the Mineral Resource Authority to furnish full benefit programmes on issues raised.

Church gets serious about child protection

The National, 26th April 2013
THE Catholic Church is serious about the protection of children and has begun drafting a child protection policy.
“Efforts have begun with awareness talks and child protection programmes aimed at helping individuals, families and communities reflect on the problem of child abuse,” Archbishop John Ribat said.
“This along with domestic violence in general has become an increasingly serious concern in PNG in recent years.”
Ribat urged members of the church and people who cared about children to familiarise themselves with the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009.
“We strongly urge law enforcement agencies and the courts to diligently enforce the Act. The most evil form of child abuse is abortion – the deliberate killing of the unborn.
“We suspect that abortion is already routinely practised by some health professionals and we earnestly pray that our political leaders will have the wisdom and strength to resist the temptation to make it legal.”
Advocate of child protection Sister Mary Claude believes that the key to preventing any form of child abuse is to educate the public.
“These awareness programmes aim to make people agents of change,” she said.
“Many people see children as little adults but that is a very wrong. They are little human beings that have yet to grow and mature to adulthood. Our goal is to create a child-safe Papua New Guinea and I wish that we can bring PNG up to be at least among the top ten nations in the world who know how to take care of their kids.”

Aid Funds Spread Too Thinly, Says Abel

The National, 23 April 2013
The use of technical assistance (TA) and foreign consultants has consumed a lot of from the aid budget, says National Planning and Monitoring Minister, Charles Abel. The minister made the comment while addressing the heads of donor agencies and government departments at a technical team meeting on development effectiveness in Port Moresby. Abel said PNG received a substantial amount of aid funds on an annual basis but there was little impact on the ground. “This has led to general dissatisfaction and triggered heated debates in parliament and elsewhere that appropriate measures should be taken to improve on the aid delivery methods,” he said. He said the government’s medium-term approach to addressing this situation was to cut down on the use of TAs and instead redirect the funds to financing initiatives that would result in tangible outcomes. “In fact, the government would like to see redirection of those resources to fill the skills gap. One way to do that would be to strengthen the capacities of the universities such as through provision of new library books, personnel to teach post graduate and research degree programmes.”

AROB to Introduce Education Conscription

Post-Courier, 23 April 2013
A new law in Bougainville will see compulsory education for all school age children. The new education law which will be tabled and endorsed in the Bougainville Executive Council (BEC) meeting in June will make sure all children from Elementary to Grade 10 are ‘forced’ to attend school. There won’t be any excuses for those who don’t want to attend or run away from school because they will be arrested by police once this law is formally passed by the BEC. This very important announcement was made by Bougainville Education Chief Officer Bruno Babato in Arawa last week. Mr Babato said when this law was passed no child would be staying home as police would have the power to arrest school-age children in the villages. Parents harboring their children at home would also be arrested. “All students must be in class from June onwards when the law is passed,” Mr Babato said adding that the police and education authprities would arrest and force them into class if they failed to do so. Mr Babato who returned from Port Moresby after a meeting with overseas education experts on the matter said this would be a big challenge for his division to implement. He said this new law would address the illiteracy rate which is very high among many young people with many of them cannot read write which poses a threat to development aspirations of the region. “We have no time to rest until all Bougainvilleans go to school to read and write,” said Mr Babato. He said if the region was talking about Referendum and Independence they had to educate their young people to read and write in order to see and bring about the development aspirations. . Mr Babato outlined South Bougainville with the highest rate of illiteracy with 79 percent, Northern Region with 35 percent and Central Bougainville 26%.

Crime on the Rise in PNG Urban Areas

PNG Blogs 29 April, 2013
The National Capital District and East New Britain are two of the most developed and affluent areas of PNG. Citizens and residents of NCD and ENB enjoy a higher standard of living than people in other provinces.

In particular, the NCD enjoys the special status as the nation’s capital, hosting the seats of government and commerce as well as Port Moresby city whose privileged population enjoys a lifestyle that most citizens can only dream of. Despite their high political and socio-economic status, the NCD and ENB are two of the worst crime areas in the country.

Like social diseases, crimes such as rape have become prevalent in both pla­ces, according to police. Yesterday, acting NCD metropolitan commander Pe­rou N’dranou lamented the increase in rape cases in the nation’s capital and warned women and young girls to be extra careful about their safety. And in today’s paper, ENB police commander Anthony Wagambie Jr confirmed that there was an increase in gang rape, especially in the Rabaul area. Wagambie said this after po­lice held 15 men for questioning over the recent rape of a woman at Malaguna. Both police commanders reported an increasing number of rape cases in the past week in which women and young girls fell victims to men who would rather be known as animals of the worst kind. N’dranou and Wagambie are extremely concerned about this alarming trend –and so should all law-abiding citizens in the country, especially those in the nation’s capital and ENB.

Why should rapists be allowed to roam our streets, suburbs and villages at will and continue to commit this horrendous crime? Is it because our laws are too soft or it is because we don’t want to know as long as it is not our sisters, wives or mothers who being violated by these packs of rabid dogs? Somewhere along the line, something drastic needs to be done to control the rising trend of rape and other social crimes such as incest and domestic violence. Crimes such as rape need more than the police to bring under control. Community involvement and efforts are essential in cleansing our streets, suburbs and villages of people with rapist tendencies and behaviour.

Indeed, Christian churches in PNG should be at the forefront of the war against social evils such as rape and incest. Why have our church lea­ders been so quiet on the law and order situation in this country? Aside from some comment by the Catholic church on the recent sorcery-related killings, the silence of the other mainstream and Pentecostal churches is deafening. Whilst the government is concerned about the increa­sing rate of crime and the private sector is equally alarmed at the impact of crime on their business activities and profitability, the churches are seemingly indifferent in their outlook and response to se­rious social and crime-related issues in PNG. Isn’t it part of their mission to save condemned souls such as rapists and other sex offenders? Or would they rather preach the Gospel from the safety of their pulpits? PNG is a Christian country and its church leaders must also walk the talk of Christ, not only at Easter but throughout the year.

They must begin to play a leading role in changing the mindset of citizens who have become victims of the rapid lifestyle changes that are ta­king place in this country. More than any time in PNG’s short political history a concerted effort is needed by all sectors of our society – from the public and private sectors to the churches and civil groups – to control and quell the rising trend of crime before the purveyors of these evil activities overwhelm us.

It’s never too late to educate our younger generation to become law-abiding and God-fearing citizens of our beautiful country.

Past issues of Social Concern Notes may be found at http://tokstret.com

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