I currently have the pleasure to be working with two amazing Women Human Rights Defenders from Papua New Guinea (PNG), Mary Kini, founder of Kup Women for Peace, and Monica Paulus, founder of a community organisation defending women accused of sorcery and who are victims of discrimination and violence. Sponsored by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), Monica and Mary are visiting Nepal for three months, to strengthen their capacity in monitoring and documenting human rights violations with the women’s NGO I work with.
Each woman has her share of both inspiring and often horrifying stories of their work in the highlands of PNG. Which is…where?
PNG is a small country, situated in the south-western Pacific Ocean, next to Indonesia and above Australia. A former member of the British Commonwealth, PNG gained its independence from Australia in 1975. It has a population of about 6.2 million, over 800 different languages, and more than 80% of Papua New Guineans live in rural areas surviving on subsistence agricultural practices. A third of people live in extreme poverty. Much to my shame as an Australian, and a neighbour of PNG, I didn’t know any of this until I met Mary and Monica upon their arrival in Nepal.
This shame has only increased upon learning the abysmal situation for women in PNG. I don’t often use the word abysmal – it’s a strong term, with a lot laden onto it – but the situation for women is exactly that. Read more