In Papua New Guinea, a South Pacific nation of about 7.5 million people, some 55 per cent of women have been raped. And 60 per cent of the men ‘boast’ of having participated in a gang rape, according to Amnesty International, which says these ‘rates of violence against women match those of a war zone’.
There are also ongoing incidences of women being accused of witchcraft – then stripped, tortured and ultimately murdered, often by burning.
Violence committed by men against female partners is endemic, but abused Papuan women have few places to turn to. One is Haus Ruth, the longest-running battered women’s shelter in the country. Located in the capital Port Moresby, the shelter is run by City Mission PNG, a Christian humanitarian group.
In 2001, City Mission bought a dilapidated two-storey building at Port Moresby’s Ela Beach. Renovations took two years and the building known as Haus Ruth opened its doors in April 2003.