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This is the final blog presenting the findings of a research project exploring the impact of family and sexual violence (FSV) on families and children. Previous blogs have looked at services to address FSV in Lae, the impact on families, and the impact on school attendance. This post presents our findings on the relationship between the women in our study and the police, including the reasons they did or did not seek police help. This is important in light of the focus over the past decade on the police and criminal justice system in responding to family violence, as reflected in the enactment of the Family Protection Act 2013 and the rollout of specialist Family Sexual Violence Units (FSVU) in many police stations.
Overall, the emerging findings of our study, detailed below, suggest caution with regard to the adoption of policies such as mandatory arrests, or no-drop policies, that remove agency from the survivors and may push them even further from the system that is ostensibly established to support them.
Women navigate between informal and formal support mechanisms
Although there are valid reasons to object to binary distinctions between formal and informal justice systems, given the hybridity that characterises much of PNG, we use the terms formal and informal to reflect how the different mechanisms are conceived by our 71 interviewees. The main informal community mechanism available to women are the blok komitis (see here and here), an ubiquitous feature of local governance in PNGs urban settlement communities. Blok komitis can be problematic for women seeking to address FSV and IPV for a number of reasons. For instance, they charge table fees which many women cannot afford, and the outcomes often involve compensation payments, the terms and prices of which are set at the discretion of the komiti. They are also often based on local ethnic or social groupings, so members of the komiti may be kin to the perpetrator. Moreover,...
Solomon Islands is expected to hold national elections in March 2019, the first since the departure of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in June 2017. This blog highlights a number of issues to look out for as the country steps up electoral preparations.
Becoming a member of parliament (MP) in Solomon Islands brings with it access to substantial financial resources, and national elections herald a time of intense politicking as aspiring MPs jockey for office and the accompanying benefits. While there appears little risk of generalised election-related violence, there is always potential for localised conflict. In the past, disgruntled candidates have damaged polling stations and supporters have engaged in brawls. Following the 2014 election, a boat used by politicians from a particular political faction was damaged by gunshots just before a parliamentary vote to form government. The May 2018 Gizo-Kolambangara by-election was notable for its intensive campaigning.
Historically, elections in Solomon Islands have seen high turnover rates with around 50 per cent of incumbent MPs losing their seat. This has bolstered a perception that politics in Solomon Islands is inherently unstable and meant that observers have looked to elections for signs of political stabilisation. The 2014 national election was an electoral outlier for its significantly lower incumbent turnover rates, with 74 per cent of sitting MPs returned. It is unclear why this occurred, but it may have something to do with the large constituency development funds provided to incumbent MPs during the previous parliament. For the coming election, sitting MPs will have had access to about US $1 million a year. To put this in perspective, the median electorate in 2014 had just 5,391 registered voters. Many MPs have used these weakly-regulated funds to try to consolidate their power. It will be interesting to see if this provides an incumbent advantage, with lower parliamentary turnover becoming the new normal.
The 2014 elections saw only one woman elected Freda Tuki. She was joined by Lanelle Tanangada following the Gizo-Kolombangara by-election. Tuki eventually lost an electoral petition in October 2018, which led to her losing her seat. But with both women in parliament (t...
Previously, we introduced our research project in Lae and provided some emerging results on the links between family and sexual violence (FSV) and financial hardship among the women we interviewed. This blog shares some emerging findings on the impact of FSV on school attendance, and the strategies used by schools to assist students experiencing periods of violence. It is based on interviews with 71 women, as well as senior staff in a number of Lae schools.
FSV and school attendance
65 of the 71 women we interviewed had experienced FSV. 29 (45 per cent) spoke about how their experiences with FSV negatively impacted their childrens school attendance. Of the 29, 18 said their children had dropped out of school as a result, and nine that their children were only attending from time to time. Another four said that their children were attending, but were negatively affected.
Figure 1: Reasons for the negative impact of FSV on childrens school attendance (N = 31 observed responses from 29 women)
As Figure 1 shows, financial hardship was the main reason for children dropping out of school. Many women were unable to meet the various costs involved in sending their children to school despite the governments tuition fee free education policies. The costs of sending children to school include school project fees that many schools in PNG charge over and above the government provided school subsidies to sustain their school activities. Other costs include basics such as stationery, uniforms, bus fare and lunch. Some children ventured into income-earning avenues such as collecting plastic bottles to sell water to generate income to pay for bus fares or even school fees. Other children dropped out of school for years until their parents saved enough money to send them back. Loss of interest, shame, fear, abuse, trauma and seeking refuge in other homes after episodes of FSV were also reasons for children not attending school....
At the start of the 21st century, Papua New Guinea declared that leprosy was eliminated.
Eliminated but not eradicated. With the rate dropping below the World Health Organizations elimination threshold one in ten thousand the nations government redirected scarce health money elsewhere. But leprosy never went away. Eighteen years later, leprosy is back with a vengeance in Australias nearest neighbour. The dreaded bacterial disease can take years or decades to incubate, with steadily worsening disability from nerve damage, such as a hand frozen into an unusable claw. But the historic scourge is now readily treatable with antibiotics, with excellent outcomes if treated early.
Retired GP Dr Colin Martin, the chair of Leprosy Mission Australia, told newsGP that Leprosy never went away in PNG. Its a complicated place, with all these valleys with poor access The government is prioritising HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Leprosy doesnt seem as exciting. But from an individual perspective, its a catastrophic disease due to the stigma, social dislocation and disability it causes.
Now, leprosy is spreading again, with clusters in poor settlements on the outskirts of the capital, Port Moresby, and in remote villages. The disease is much more common amongst women and children, and is spread through cohabitation.
Logistics is shaping up as a major problem. There are caches of antibiotics stored in major cities, but getting them to remote river valleys or up into the misty highlands can be hugely challenging.
A person might walk a full day to a clinic to find that their medications for the next month arent there, Dr Martin said.
In PNG, the Leprosy Mission helps get people diagnosed and treated and gives vocational training to people with the disease. For people whose disease is caught late, the organisation gives supportive devices, arranges reconstructive surgeries and even supplies sunglasses for sufferers who have lost the ability to close their eyes.
Rosa Koian is a project manager with the Leprosy Mission Papua New Guinea. She said their Port Moresby operation had seen around 400 new cases in recent years. A lot are undetected, she told newsGP, Weve identified children who dont want to go to school because their teachers thought they might pass the disease on to the next child. Weve got four of those back in school Papua New Guineans live in crowded conditions. People with leprosy live in with their families and thats how the bacteria spreads. We have some families where the whole family has it.
When Rosa or one of the organisations 52 fieldworkers suspects som...
The latest Development Bulletin has been published, and its a bumper issue filled with articles on development in the Pacific, past, present and future.
This article in The Economist discusses ways in which language problems are a challenge to crisis responses.
The Australian Medical Research Advisory Board has recommended an Australian Global Medical Research Fund as part of its priorities for the next two years.
Pakistan has one of the worlds highest rates of abortion, this NPR article explains.
As the Syrian crisis continues, Rukban has become, to its residents, a symbol of the international communitys inability (or unwillingness) to help, writes Rozina Ali for The New Yorker.
In April 2018, as part of a research project into family and sexual violence (FSV), we interviewed women from a range of communities in Lae, PNGs second largest city. In this blog, we share some insights from the stories we heard relating to the financial pressures women face because of violence, and the impact of that violence on families and the next generation(s). Financial hardship is widespread, and impacts both on womens ability to access justice services, and also upon their ability to leave violent relationships and still support themselves and educate their children.
Violence and financial hardship
49 of the 71 women who came to see us (55 from informal settlements, 15 from formal residential areas, and one from a rural area) were the victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) (Figure 1). For 20 of these 49 women, their experience of IPV also involved other people, such as the husbands other partner. In 16 cases, the perpetrator was not an intimate partner but another family member, such as a son. Most women (36 out of 49) experiencing IPV remained in the abusive relationship (the orange bar), and indeed many expressed a determination to continue in the relationship.
Figure 1: Participants experiencing or who have experienced FSV (N=71)
With or without violence, most of the women we interviewed live precarious lives. They had low educational backgrounds, earned low incomes, and worked in the informal sector. 42 per cent earned less than K100 a fortnight. 60 per cent worked on a tebol maket (table market) or haus maket (house market), the common references to small market stalls, selling goods outdoors near their homes.
Of the 49 women who suffered violence at the hands of their intimate partner, including IPV that involved other people, 71 per cent related experiences about how violence led to financial hardship (Figure 2). Financial hardship was common for women still involved in abusive relationships, and even more so for those who were separated.
Figure 2: Experience of IPV involving financial hardship (N=49)
Thailand has experienced rapid growth and a structural transformation since the 1950s. However, Thailand has also experienced growth without equity. Although it has fallen in recent years, Thailands Gini index has been above 0.40 for the last 30 years. This is high by Asian standards, and makes Thailand look like China rather than Taiwan and South Korea.
Figure 1 Gini coefficient for Thailand and other Asian countries
Looking at income share by quintile, we can see that the richest 20 per cent own about 50 per cent of Thailands national income. This share has slightly fallen over the last 30 years. However, in 2013, the poorest 20 per cent still received only seven per cent of the countrys prosperity.
Figure 2 Income shares by quintile for Thailand
According to Albert Hirschman, the losers from economic development can tolerate income inequality at the beginning because they hope and expect that the windfall will be shared soon. However, if eventually the gap between the rich and the poor does not fall over time, the losers become intolerant. They think that this kind of economic growth is unfair. The result is social movements and political unrest. A well-known example is the Occupy movement protests by young people against economic inequality that began in New York in 2011 and spread to other countries such as Brazil, Spain, and India.
Why hasnt high inequality led to protests in Thailand? It is hard to believe that the modest reduction in inequality in the reason.
There are other, more compelling reasons for why inequality is not a press...
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