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Ending Violence Against Women starts with Leaders

This was the message strongly emphasized by Executive Director for UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on her visit to PNG.

Ms Mlambo Ngcuka’s visit was part of the 16-day Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.

This international campaign originated from the Women’s Global Leadership Institute, coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.

Ms Mlambo Ngcuka, said that Papua New Guinea New Guinea was the centre point of her visit as PNG is one of the countries in the world with a high number of GBV cases.

Statistics from PNG Law Reform Commission, reported that, 67 per cent of women in PNG are beaten by their husbands. PNG Institute of Medical Research reported that 65 per cent have been raped, and nearly half of them are under the age of 15.

“With high rates of violence, PNG is stepping up to address this issue,” said Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka.

PNG’s national campaign for behavioural change, the ‘Sanap Wantaim’ campaign coincided with the 16-day international activism.

“Change has to be shown by the leaders,” said Ms Ngcuka. Leaders in politics, businesses and social groups were called upon to lead the way to end violence. “Lead by example, step down on the issue, and then the citizens will follow,” she emphasized.

Violence against women in Papua New Guinea has pretty much become acceptable. We live in a society where sexism is found in almost every community. This is most likely due to the fact that there is inequality in the roles of women and men that are deep-rooted in our society. The rights and opportunities and social norms of men and women, tolerates and normalises the violence against women.

Women, and I am speaking from experience, tend to accept the fact that if you dress in a certain way and get attacked in the streets, it is your own fault. But this is not right! Violence is unacceptable regardless of the way you dress, your behaviour; or your age. No women should ever have to face violence, and think it’s normal.

Men also have a big role to play in ending violence, against women and all forms of the travesty. Volunteer Services Overseas, or VSO PNG, reported that 2-out-of-3 women have been beaten by their husbands in PNG.  UN Women stated that a successful and comprehensive plan to end violence has to include men and women as well.

Like any other country, there is a silent majority of men out there that disapproves of violence against women but, aren’t really standing up for what they believe. Everyone has the power to end violence, we just need to exercise it.

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