Stories of hope and change

Esme’s story


This is a story about *Esme, a 12 year old girl who experienced abuse from her maternal aunt and husband. She could not bear the abuse she was experiencing and decided to ran away. Through effective collaboration with Police, Family and Sexual Violence Unit, Welfare and Safe House, Femili PNG was able to provide the assistance she needed.

Her story

In December 2021, Esme’s Aunt brought her to Port Moresby from Lae, promising her parents that she would provide Esme with an education. In the beginning, Esme was well treated by her aunt and uncle, but this did not last as eventually, all good treatment turned into abuse.

Esme never went to school as promised, instead she endured constant abuse, including physical assault, child labor, emotional and verbal abuse. In addition to the abuse, her aunt reprimanded Esme in contacting and talking to her family in Lae.

Esme recalls an incident of abuse, “It was on a Wednesday morning, when my aunt called and asked me to fetch water for her to shower. I was moving slowly because I had just woken up and was still feeling sleepy but my aunt was in hurry and she lost her patience and physically assaulted me.”

Esme was in pain and tears from the physical assault. Before her aunt left the house, she threatened to hit her again when she returned home. Esme knew her aunt would carry out the threat. Feeling unsafe and fearful of knowing that her aunt would be back soon to hit her again, she ran away from the house and wandered around the Gordons Market. It was there that she met a woman who was at the market to sell her produce. Esme was alone in the market area when the concerned woman approached her, wanting to know if she was fine. Without hesitation, Esme told the woman about the unfortunate situation that had happened to her in the morning. The woman took Esme home with her and cared for Esme for a couple of days. The woman’s son who happened to be a police officer, offered to help Esme. On 24 June 2022, the Police Officer took Esme to the Boroko Police Station and together, they reported the case to the police.

Femili PNG’s intervention

Given the abuse, Esme refused to return home to her aunty and the husband. Instead, Femili PNG, as the Operator of the Bel isi PNG Case Management Centre (CMC) were contacted and took her case, assisting Esme with temporary safe accommodation while her case proceeded. The brave 12-year-old girl made the CMC aware of her wish to return to her parents, while continuing to follow through with her case against her alleged perpetrators.

The FSVU Coordination Office through Inspector Madam Sendeka issued the perpetrators with ‘verbal warning’, warning them not to continue to abuse Esme. Inspector Madam Sendeka firmly affirmed that none of their reasons could justify the abuses they had committed towards Esme.

In collaboration with the Office of the FSVU Coordination, Inspector Madam Sandeka assisted in repatriating and handing over Esme. Madam Sandeka accompanied the child from Port Moresby to Lae and handed her over to her family.

Femili PNG have seen the effectiveness of the collaboration in this case. The contribution of the safe accommodation and Welfare. Through support from Bel isi PNG, Femili PNG was able to fund the repatriation costs while the police officer facilitated a successful repatriation.

Together, all integrated intervention from service providers resulted to good outcomes to the survivor. Esme was able to return safely to her family on 16 January 2023.

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*Not her real name