Evidence gleaned from media, anecdotal, and hitherto unpublished sources suggests that violence resulting from small arms and light weapons in PNG is distinctly gendered. While it is important to recognise that conflict and post-conflict situations affect men and women in different ways, it is instructive to go further, and examine the different experiences of men and women in the context of the ‘gun culture’ that has developed in parts of PNG in recent years.
Our research uncovers both important gender differences in perceptions of security and the gendered nature of gun violence. By situating the proliferation of small arms in the context of culture, power, and security in PNG, our contribution is grounded in a social and political history of PNG, with an account of the changing pattern of conflict and violence, gender relations, and in particular, the role of firearms.
Our investigation proceeds through a discussion of the three broad and overlapping settings in which the gun culture has emerged. These are raskolism, tribal fighting, and election-related violence. The investigation then moves to an overview of the gender of violence in PNG, and concludes with a discussion of the alternative responses of the state and community-based organisations to violence and conflict. A number of policy implications follow.