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By Scott Waide, RNZ Pacific PNG correspondent, and Lydia Lewis, RNZ Pacific journalist

Women’s rights advocates in Papua New Guinea are calling for peace and for the men in Parliament to act against the violence in the country.

The call comes following tribal fighting in Enga Province ended in a mass massacre at the weekend, which has so far claimed more than 60 lives.

Dorothy Tekwie, founder of Papua New Guinea Women in Politics, said she was heartbroken for the women who’ve have lost their children in the brutal killings.

“Any woman would be emotional…and I am also calling on women throughout Papua New Guinea to stand up. Enough is enough of violence of all forms.

“We are asking for accountability from our members of Parliament. It doesn’t matter whether they are in government or in opposition. This is a national crisis.”

Tekwie said the government needed to return the peace in the Highlands so infrastructure, housing, health and education development could begin.

On Wednesday, the government addressed a motion to take action on tribal conflicts and violence, specifically in Enga province.

Mothers mourning
Another advocate Esmie Sinapa said as gunmen planned their next attack in the Highlands, mothers were mourning the deaths of their children.

Sinapa said violence had been escalating across the nation for some years.

“Imagine 60 mothers, wailing, weeping for their sons. As mothers of this country, women of this country, we are very concerned,” she said.

Dorothy Tekwie said the government needs to return the peace in the Highlands.
Papua New Guinea Women in Politics founder Dorothy Tekwie . . . the government needs to return the peace in the Highlands. Image: RNZ Pacific/Scott Waide

Cathy Alex, who was kidnapped last year in the Bosavi region and held for ransom, said PNG was on the verge of being a “failed state”.

As a woman who herself had experienced similar violence, Alex said the government must act.

“I don’t know what kind of country we call ourselves,” she said.

“This is a country . . . that if we look at indicators that shows a failed state. We are already it.

‘Individuals stand up’
“What’s holding this country together is individuals like these individuals who stand up for their communities and hold peace.

“What happened [in Enga] is completely unprecendented,” she added.

Tekwie said PNG women want affirmative action taken by government to deal with some of these issues.

“Starting with early education for one. We are mothers and are finding it so hard to get our kids into school,” she said.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

Esmie Sinapa
Women’s advocate Esmie Sinapa . . . “Imagine 60 mothers, wailing, weeping for their sons.” Image: RNZ Pacific/Scott Waide
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