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The 2018 Crime and Safety Perceptions Survey in PNG indicated that domestic violence was the third most common crime (in PNG) experienced in the previous 12 months by individuals or someone in their family. The limited capacity of the criminal justice system in PNG to respond to reported crime has been a longstanding concern (Putt and Dinnen 2020). According to a 2015 Human Rights Watch report, many women in PNG are ambivalent about reporting to the police and prosecution and arrest may not always be in their best interest. However, research has indicated that the support of specialist family and sexual violence services can make a difference to survivors and lead to greater protection from the justice system (Putt el al. 2019).
Last week, Dr Judy Putt from the Department of Pacific Affairs spoke to Tahlea Aualitia on ABC’s Pacific Beat program regarding the low conviction rates in PNG despite high domestic violence rates. She said there are two key factors behind the low conviction rates for domestic violence in PNG: the pressure on the victim or survivor and the formal justice system itself.
“Issues may include lack of financial independence, ability to attend court, being scared of the perpetrator or retaliation from his family,” Dr Putt said.
“The justice system itself is just very under-resourced and it makes it very difficult for any kind of offence to result in a conviction but, it just gets exacerbated when it comes to domestic violence,” Dr Putt said.
These kinds of delays, barriers and low rates of convictions, Dr Putt said, can lead to a lack of confidence in the police and the formal justice system and dissuade victims and survivors from coming forward.
You can listen to the entire segment here.
Dr Putt has written extensively on family and sexual violence in PNG, some of which appear below: