• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

In Papua New Guinea, a nation that has historically battled high rates of domestic violence, police are investigating the alleged death of two children at the hands of their father. A campaigner says it is time the nation addresses the causes of abuse.

Apr 28, 2021

Papua New Guinea police are investigating an alleged act of filicide, with a man was taken into custody for allegedly killing his two young children. 
Key points:

  • Two boys, aged three and five, have allegedly been killed by their father in Port Moresby 
  • PNG has long battled high rates of domestic violence 
  • An anti-violence advocate says PNG needs to heal the long-term drivers of violence

Police have said the 29-year-old “repeatedly stabbed” his two sons in the Port Moresby suburb of Morata about 5:00pm on Tuesday following an argument with his wife.
The children were aged five and three, police said.
Neighbours reportedly restrained the alleged perpetrator after he was seen to be attempting to take his own life, before being arrested by police, according to a police Facebook post. 
Police have yet to release full details of the incident and have told the ABC they are still waiting on a medical assessment of the suspect. 
They have not yet laid formal charges. 
If you or anyone you know needs help:
Neighbours in Morata were able to restrain the father before he was aprehended by police. (ABC News: Jarrod Fankhauser
Violence moving from spouses to children at ‘alarming rate’
Neighbours reportedly restrained the alleged perpetrator after he was seen attempting to take his own life.(Facebook: PNG Police NCD/Central Divisional Command
Tania Nugent, an anti-violence advocate based in PNG, told ABC Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat her heart “sank” when she learned of the children’s deaths. 
“There’s domestic abuse and now we’re seeing it move from spouses to children at an alarming rate,” Ms Nugent said. 
Domestic violence help numbers in PNG:

  • 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain for counselling: 7150 8000
  • The Meri Seif Line for emergency transport: 7222 1234
  • The National FSVU police office 7152 7622 or 7350 9130

She added the “horrific nature” of the violence in homes across PNG had worsened markedly.
PNG has historically battled with high rates of domestic violence. It only became a criminal offence there in 2013.
It is estimated more than two-thirds of women in PNG experience family violence.
Last year, 647 cases of domestic violence were reported over a month in Port Moresby alone. The true figures are expected to be far higher.  
Family and domestic violence support services:
In 2018, Human Rights Watch declared violence against women in PNG had become an “emergency” that had been exacerbated by “weak and inconsistent” enforcement of the new domestic violence laws. 
Ms Nugent said she hoped the latest alleged family violence tragedy would prompt broader discussion and understanding of the long-term drivers of violence. 
“We tend to be reactive with how we respond to these horrific acts of violence in our society instead of going deeper,” she said. 
“We should always have funds prioritised to go towards the issues that affect harmony in the home and cause violence in the community.” 
Understanding intergenerational trauma in the context of violence
Tania Nugent, pictured at an anti-domestic violence rally, says the causes of abuse must be addressed.(Supplied
Ms Nugent said intergenerational trauma caused by the social “clash” created by colonisation and the modern world “disrupting existing structures in Indigenous communities” was one of the drivers of abuse in Papua New Guinea. 
She said people were often quick to say alcohol, drug, and domestic abuse were caused by the failings of individuals, rather than see the behaviour as symptomatic of a society disrupted by unresolved intergenerational trauma. 
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“The work that we have to do here right now is to explain to people what generational trauma is,” Ms Nugent said. 
“It’s a harder thing for people to wrap their heads around it’s easier for people to think, ‘Let’s just lock him up, put him in jail and punish him forever and that that’ll fix it.’
If it did not take the trauma seriously, Ms Nugent said, Papua New Guinea would only witness more violence. 
“It’s a big question to ask about what can be done about [addressing violence]. If we knew [the answer] we would have done it,” Ms Nugent said. 
“But I honestly think we need to start looking deeper at introducing programs that address the healing of the trauma, rather than programs that address how to punish.” 
“We’re supposed to be outraged, so healing sounds soft. But healing is powerful.”