My husband is a policeman... he has shot at me twice

Violence against women is so widespread in Papua New Guinea that it is part of daily life for almost all of us. Everyday we see or hear of men physically and violently abusing women - but in 99.9% of cases both the victims and those of us who see what is happening remain silent.

Below is a story from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Every one of us should read it and then hang our head in shame. Until we find the courage to speak out nothing will change and our sons and daughters will grow up thinking not only is this acceptable, it is how they should behave.

According to Amnesty International, two-thirds of the women in Papua New Guinea have been hit by their partners; in parts of the densely populated rugged provinces that comprise the Highlands, that figure swells to nearly 100 percent.

Mary Benny [not her real name] and her three children have moved into her mother's home. She asked that her name and location not be published because she fears for her life: her husband beats her with impunity.

My husband is a policeman, and he's an alcoholic. He's a good father. He gives us money, but he's always violent. After I gave birth to my first daughter, he started to beat me.

I've been to the hospital many, many times with a swollen face, a black eye, a bloody nose. This scar on my arm is from when he used a sharp piece of iron and stabbed me. Once he threw a stone at my head. I had to get six stitches. When he gets very angry at me, he beats my children, too.

Many times, he has pointed his gun at me. He shot at me twice, at the floor, just next to my foot. I just stood there crying. There was no one to protect me. Other policemen came, punched the door in and stopped the fight, but my husband wasn't arrested.

Recently he has been going for mobile operations in other provinces, and he has been with other ladies. I've been tested three times for HIV - so far it has been negative.

I always live in fear. He tells me he will kill me if I tell anyone. With other people, the police would make an arrest, but they won't do that to their comrades.

I told his bosses last year [2009], but they didn't do anything, so in April, I went to [an organization that helps victims of domestic violence] and to the public solicitor's office here - after 10 years of this. Now it's too much for me, so I had to tell someone about my problems.

When it comes to husband and wife relations, men in Papua New Guinea are not good. When we are young, it's happy, like sugar. Then after a child or two, it becomes bitter.


I bury my head in shame. When I was young, I did not consider violence against women as happy as sugar. I DID NOT! It is serious.

I have been growing up in this society and witnessing several domestic violence. Now it seems that I can take physical violence too, which is NOT good. Its not because I like it. Its just because I do not know how to CONTROL my anger.

The victim in the above situation does not consider domestic violence to be as "sweet as sugar" in the beginning and then go on to be bitter but rather the initial dating phase of the relationship when the man is trying to win over the woman. Then she states, "after a child or two things become bitter". The last phrase meaning, in my own words, that after he has had his time with her, impregnated her, got her looking after him, making sure that she is completely reliant upon him for survival (in terms of money) then does he start taking her for "granted", for lack of a better word.