A Family Act – Power, Gendered Violence and the Living Legacy of Social Injustice in Papua New Guinea

Alison Dundon

Power inequalities and social injustice buttress and rationalise elevated levels of violence against women in Papua New Guinea. Increasingly, however, justifications for violence based on ‘tradition’ have been challenged by grassroots, non-government and external organisations. In this context, violence directed at women has become a focus for change through new social policies and legal frameworks. The continuing legacy of violence, and PNG’s complex legal system, however, make it difficult for women to navigate away from forms of everyday violence. Despite the recent introduction of the Family Protection Act (FPA), which criminalises domestic and family violence, research suggests that transformations in legal, sociocultural and political processes are slow and inadequate. This chapter argues that PNG women experience not only high levels of spectacular violence, which renders them particularly vulnerable to structural inequalities, but also the mundane and slow violence that causes profound and ongoing harm. The living legacy of social injustice means that women experience limited access to vital services and spaces, as well as legal protection and representation. While the FPA proffers a way forward for women experiencing violence, then, its implementation across PNG’s disparate and diverse communities is likely to be challenging, complex and long-term.

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Research Type(s)
Book Chapter
August 24, 2023
Published in

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