S: Today US President Barak Obama spoke out about the human rights abuses that are happening in Libya. He said “…these are human rights. They are not negotiable. They must be respected in every country and they cannot be denied through violence or suppression.”
The other night our Papua New Guinean neighbour M was walking home from one of the nicer hotels in town and was robbed of his clothes, shoes, glasses and wallet by a group of locals just outside of the hotel. Why? Because he’s gay. Is it obvious? He doesn’t smoke, chew betel nut, dresses very smartly and takes care of himself. So probably. He ran back down to the hotel to ask the security guards for help. A car of police men parked nearby saw the commotion and came over to see what the problem was. M told them what had happened, asked the security guards to support him as they’d witnessed the whole thing but they said that they’d seen nothing. The local guys said that they robbed him because he was coming on to them…likely? No. The security guards then stood by and watched as the police beat M with sticks. Three of them beat him to the ground, dragged him through dog shit and then carried on beating him. Why? Because he’s gay.
What can we do about it? Apparently not much. Another neighbour T works with Save the Children on a project with sex workers and men who have sex with men (MSM) two greatly marginalised populations here in PNG. He himself says that there’s nothing we can do. The whole police institution is corrupt and few major crimes are investigated unless a bribe is paid. Many reports exist about both men and women going to police stations for help and suffering police brutality through beatings or rape, or both. The details are here in this report written by Amnesty International (page 19, section 4.4 details abuses by the police against girls, women and men). A small local incident has no chance of raising even an eyebrow. No human rights organisations seem to exist here despite Amnesty International’s report. The local media aren’t interested and nor it seems are the international media. If there is something that can be done then it is not widely known, even among the ‘expert community’.
While sometimes living here feels like living in paradise it doesn’t take long for the harsh realities of life to smack you in the face, pick you up and shake you around and then dump you back on the ground feeling extraneous and helpless.
Last year I wrote an assignment about the ‘Landscape of Intimate Partner Violence in Port Moresby’. I haven’t written academically for at least six years so please forgive its short fallings but, if you’re interested to know more then you can read it here.
You may need a gin to get you through…