Tuesday, 2 December 2008 7:00 AM

Male Babies Killed to Stop Tribal Fighting

Women in a rural part of Papua New Guinea killed their male babies over a 10 year-period in an attempt to stop the tribal fighting that has brought death and destruction to their people for more than 20 years.

As reported by PNG's The National, 'two women from the area revealed this experience to The National in Goroka' last week.
The women, part of a group from the remote Gimi area of Okapa in PNG's Eastern Highlands province 'were brought in to attend a three-day peace and reconciliation training in Goroka last week' and revealed how, because of the death and destruction that has plagued their people for more than 20 years as a result of tribal fighting, 'the women decided that if they stopped producing males, their tribe's stock would go down and this would force the men to end the fight'.

"Therefore, all the womenfolk agreed to have all male babies born killed because they have had enough of men engaging in tribal conflicts and bringing misery to them," they said.

One woman, 'from Agibu village in Gimi, said several women in labour were forced to kill male babies during a 10-year period'.
'She choked back tears recalling the experience, saying it was an unbearable crime but they had to do it', saying 'they were forced into it as it was the only means available to them as women to bring an end to tribal fights'.

However, according to The National, 'the 23-year struggle is set to end thanks to the tireless efforts of the Salvation Army church that got leaders of 15 different warring communities to negotiate'.
The church 'spearheaded the training in Goroka following an initiative by Pastor Michael Hemuno and other members of the community to end prolonged tribal conflicts in the area'.

'The tribal fight in the Gimi area started in 1986 and it was triggered by some deaths blamed on sorcery'.

Meanwhile, a report launched last week in Port Moresby revealed the problem of gender inequality in the country.

Titled "Violence against Women in Melanesia and East Timor: Building on Regional and Global Promising Approaches", the report ranked PNG '124th out of 136 countries on a gender-related development index'.

According to The National, the report 'also indicated that PNG's maternal mortality rate was more than double that of any other Pacific Island country' and "Educational enrolment rates for girls relative to boys were among the lowest in the Pacific, which led to disadvantages in the formal economy".

'Gender inequality had resulted in growing poverty, high levels of armed crime and sporadic civil unrest having a disproportionate impact on women, especially in the urban areas'.
'Increasingly, women's economic survival was dependent on exchanging sex for money, goods or favours either through informal transactional sex or regular sex work'.

Furthermore, according to the report, in 2002, 'PNG became the fourth country in the Asia-Pacific to reach the level of a generalised HIV/AIDS epidemic and, since 2005, more infections had been recorded among women and girls than among men' and the 'high level of domestic and sexual violence in PNG had contributed to the rapid spread of the epidemic'.

To read more on the report, follow the link provided below.

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