New protections for women in Papua New Guinea

7 April 2015, 12:07 UTC | Papua New Guinea
Sarah and Tapora are local human rights defenders making big changes in Papua New Guinea. © Tim Bell/Amnesty International Australia

Sarah and Tapora (pictured above) went to the United Nations to testify about the high rates of violence against women in their home country, Papua New Guinea (PNG). The chance to hold their government accountable in an international forum led to big changes. After years of campaigning, you were finally heard in 2013 when PNG passed a Family Protection Act. Domestic violence is now illegal in PNG, thanks to the hard work of supporters like you.

Sadly, many women are still at-risk. Two out of three women in PNG are victims of domestic violence. 55% of women have been raped, and 60% of men boast of joining in a gang rape. These rates of violence against women match those of a war zone.

Despite the difficulties, we are seeing positive changes. These new laws are a great step, but we need your help to make the new protections real.

When we heard about a family at risk of a sorcery killing, we launched an urgent petition demanding that the PNG authorities help free the women who were being held hostage. More than 12,000 supporters like you signed the petition in less than a day. After we flooded the police with faxes and media reports, the Deputy Commissioner announced that saving the women’s lives was now a priority for his team.  Thanks to supporters like you, the woman and her two teenage daughters were saved. Without your support, they would now be dead.

After this international pressure, the government of PNG agreed to repeal the Sorcery Law. This archaic legislation allowed people to get away with murdering women by using fear of witchcraft as their defence. This is no longer legal, thanks to your action.

With your support, we will be able to do more to push the government and police to enforce the laws that protect women and girls from violence.

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