ZERO-TOLERANCE TO GENDER BASED VIOLENCE IN 2017

As we begin this New Year, 2017, I appeal to all men and boys in Port Moresby and indeed around the country to pause for one moment and make a new beginning. A beginning where we stand together with our mothers, sisters, aunties, girl cousins, wives, girlfriends to ensure that they are safe, feel secure to live their life in freedom, in equality and in safety at all times.

A mother or young woman in our county is filled with huge challenges just because she is a woman in our country. I ask all of you, just for one moment to imagine what life would be like being a woman in Papua New Guinea?

Imagine if you were a women or a mother having to go into pregnancy for nine months and then endure the labour of childbirth. You risk your life to birth a child in expression of love of your husband or partner. And almost every day you have to do daily chores like washing, cooking and clean up for your husband and children. Then you send them happily to school and to work and look forward to their return at the end of the day with a meal prepared for the whole family.

If you live in the city, imagine too if you walk to the shops or markets, or getting on and off the bus, you risk your bag or bilum or mobile phone to be snatched and you feel so insecure. In addition to that, because you are a woman, you might be subjected to stares, looks of a sexual manner, guys making suggestive remarks, or being teased, pretend accidental touches or molestation? Imagine too that you are not able to go out freely, to the beach or shops on your own because your safety is not guaranteed just because you are a woman and can be picked up or be raped if you are by yourself? Imagine? How is it to live everyday with eyes on your back and having to look over your shoulders and wondering what is at the next corner?

If you live in the village, imagine if you go to the garden or river to have a bath or wash clothes or cooking utensils on your own. Will it be safe? Would you need a man escort? Can you go on your own? If there was a tribal fight or war, will it be just a fight between men or will you be attacked, kidnapped or raped as a means of pay back to your tribe because your tribal or clan enemy cannot get and attack men of your clan? In the village too and now also in towns, imagine if there is an allegation of sorcery? Imagine the horror you will endure because you were accused of sorcery just because you are woman?

After all of that, imagine if you have a husband or a partner who beats you, get possessive on you, and on the smallest of dispute or disagreement, uses threats, intimidation, hostility, abandonment to solve the problem?

It is sad but true that the plight of women in our country is not easy. Their life is a constant struggle on a daily basis filled with risks. Either at home, on the road, in public transports, at markets or shopping malls, in schools, on the way home from work or after visiting friends. Life is limited and restricted simply because they are women. We fail to see our women as human being with rights to express their sexuality without judgements and name-calling. So women in our country is regarded as of lesser value, do not need our respect and can be picked on, assaulted, molested, touched, attacked and raped. Their potential to be who they are and to contribute to their family, community, LLG, district, province and nation is restricted or limited because of all these limitations placed on them. To top it up with all the problems and challenges men and women face in our country such as lack of basic services or poor health and education services, poor police service and poor infrastructure, its even harder being women in PNG. A woman or a girl in PNG cannot truly enjoy a good quality life.

Now imagine a new beginning, a new normal where there is more respect for women and both women and girls feel safe in their own environment to go to school, to go to work and markets, shopping, go to the beach, dance and visit relatives without intimidation and fear. Imagine if all the restrictions or limitations are not placed on women and girls of our country. They can live normal lives, feel free, and express their lives purposefully. If you were a woman or a girl in our country, imagine how beautiful and empowering that could be. And imagine the combined energy, labour and intellect of our people, man and women working together? We can achieve so much more, not only for our individual selves but also to our children. We will create a climate where our city and our country is truly the paradise we own and make it enticing for tourists, for volunteers, for businesses to thrive and for our women to play more important roles in politics, in businesses and corporate ventures.

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Now, for me personally, this is an area, where we need to put more attention and move forward positively as a nation. Empowering our women and girls in all sectors of society and social well being, reduction and complete elimination of gender based violence so we can all live and work together as one people and one nation. Women are recognised and respected as human beings (not sex objects) and enjoying the same rights and freedom of movements, exercising their abilities and living to their highest potential. That’s the hope and the dream for me going forward and setting this new beginning and I encourage our men and boys to join me in this journey. The bulk of responsibility lays with us men and boys. We need to do this together, right NOW.

One of the key goals at the level of the city this year, 2017, is Zero-Tolerance on Gender Based Violence. It is part of the transformation we are undertaking in our city and our country to make our city a better place for our children and ourselves. We have witnessed amazing physical changes in our city. We have seen the economy and population increase in our city. We are beginning to deliver to our resident’s basic services like water and sewerage. We must also improve the values and virtues that guides and holds our city as a community together; in order for the transformation to be real and sustainable and to bring a better lifestyle to our people as a whole.

This is a goal man and boys in our city can and must deliver. If we place ourselves in the position of women and girls in our city and if we conclude that it is not a good life then we must stop and change our behaviour and habits NOW. Real men respects women. They value women. Let’s be the change Men and Boys of Port Moresby. Make 2017 a year in which we Sanap Wantaim and Stop Violence against women and girls and make our city and our country safe for all women, children, men, workers, students, tourist, investors and all ethnic and nationalities. I know we can, together bring total reduction of violence to our city and our country.

HON. POWES PARKOP LLB LLM MP [Governor] January 29, 2017 1.11am

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