Editor, The World Today
The United Nations estimates that more than one in three women around the world experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. This statistic is shocking enough, but it pales into insignificance when compared with the reality of life in Papua New Guinea, a South Pacific country where no fewer than 55 per cent of women have been raped.

Some 60 per cent of men claim to have taken part in a gang rape, which can be part of an initiation ritual into manhood. 

In this article, Ray Cavanaugh focuses on Haus Ruth, the longest-running women’s shelter in the country, and what it is doing to alleviate the epidemic of sexual violence which the government is belatedly starting to address.       

In recent years the issue of sexual violence as a weapon of war has been rising up the international agenda. In a landmark case in Guatemala in March two former soldiers were convicted of crimes against humanity for mass rapes during the civil war, 33 years ago.   

But it useful to remember that even a country such as Papua New Guinea which is not racked by armed conflict is still a war zone for half the population.