A Case Study on Customs and Traditions revealed that using provisions ofthe Village Court Act andthe Underlying Law Actocommunities can amend customs to protectthemselves and especially vulnerable women and children.
This was revealed yesterday by an internationally recognized Lawyer and Specialist Consultant Genevieve Howse, a guest speaker atthe Underlying Law Conference hosted bythe Constitutional Law Reform Commission.
Genevieve Howse and her team carrlied out a special case study on customs and traditional practices in Manus Province.
The research is an attempt to put customs into law.
The purpose ofthe project titled Custom Women- Village Courts Berukim Beush project was an attempt to reduce discrimination amongthe vulnerable, especially women and children.
The research in Manus revealed thatthe people wanted certain customs to be amended to suit today’s context. This included Beide Price wherethe people saidthe shift from traditional payment to modern cash and store goods is costly for them.
“All villages brought up one particular custom, and that was ‘Beide Price’. Everyone nominated that Beide Price as an area wherethey would like to change, which certainly from our point of view was extremely helpful because it gave us a very clear starting point,” said Genevieve.
Another traditional practicethey wanted to change was to reducethe mourning periods due tothe same reasons.
The research proverd that communities can identify customs which are not working for them and amendthem for the better.
The agreed changes can be made law through a declaration of customs inthe Village Courts. Futhermore, declarations of customary laws can be made by Local Level governments and Provincial Governments by an Enabling Law.
The research team has a draft in place onthe Enabling Law for Manus Province. They will visitthe site soon to finalisethe Provincial Enabling Law on Manus Customary Law Empowerment Law 2013.
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