Tougher laws coming for PNG gender violence says Police Minister

AUCKLAND, (PACIFIC RADIO NEWS) – A leading Papua New Guinea journalist has broken her silence on being abused by her partner and the Minister of Police is hoping more women will follow her example.

Minister Jelta Wong is also promising those doing the hitting will be hit themselves with tougher penalties before the end of the year.

TV-Wan program producer Hennah Joku shared graphic images of her injuries after a horrific beating on September 15 which left her unconscious.

Relatives took her to hospital and called Police who eventually responded, and this week confirmed the case would be upgraded from an assault to a grievous bodily harm charge.

The case is now before the courts and is unable to be reported until further dates are set.

In an interview with PNG journalists this week, Joku could not share details of her attacker, despite what had already gone viral on social media last week.

She’s called on women and girls to break their silence and report abuse when they see or experience it to help raise awareness that violence is a crime, not a cultural or private issue.

Police Minister Jelta Wong says many PNG women and girls will be following Joku’s journey through the court system as she seeks justice and he says it’s time perpetrators learn they are in the age of social media.

“Just because you’re a big man doesn’t mean you have to go out there and marry so many women or belt your wife,” he says. “This is a thing of the past. Now with the mindset changing and social media everywhere, you can’t get away with those types of things anymore”

Minister Wong says the O’Neill government is planning to introduce tougher penalties for those behind family violence.

He says the harsher sentencing is likely to be tabled before the end of the year.

“The O’Neill Government takes it very seriously as well as I do. That’s why we’ve put a lot of emphasis in making sure that this doesn’t get swept under the carpet.”

“Some people try to keep it within the families and keep it at home but it also comes down to the fact that some women don’t actually report what’s happened to them.”

Joku told PMN over the weekend she’s been in that situation of constant forgiveness, but her latest beating was so horrific she was compelled to stand up for herself.

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