In many countries around the world, including Papua New Guinea, people are told to stay at home to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. It is said that the safest place to be right now during this COVID-19 pandemic is at home. But for those, especially women and children who have been experiencing family and sexual violence (FSV), is it safe for them to be in a ‘’lockdown’’ situation at home with their abuser? Are they at a much greater risk?
Data shows that 50% of Papua New Guinean women have been raped in their own homes and 68% of women have been subjected to physical violence. Ms. Ume Wainetti, who was at the time the National Coordinator of the PNG Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) mentioned this in her article in 2013 on the Devpolicy blog.
We can’t deny that women and children, who are more vulnerable to FSV, are now at more risk during this period where people are told to stay at home and practice social distancing. Under normal circumstances, survivors can access available services when abused. At this time, it can be difficult for survivors of FSV to access services. Femili PNG, which operates case management centres in Lae and Port Moresby, is open to assist survivors of FSV.
With the announcement of the State of Emergency, it’s apparent that people are not traveling as much as they used to visit family and friends. Regardless, it is important to try our best to keep in touch with family and friends through other ways of communication like mobile phones, emails, and even social media and know if they’re fine.
For those experiencing family and sexual violence and/or child abuse, or if you know someone going through abuse and needs help, you can reach us on the following contacts below: