Gender Violence in Melanesia and the Problem of Millennium Development Goal No. 3

Martha MacIntyre

This chapter explores and offers a critique of the ways that foreign aid projects engage with the problem of violence against women in Papua New Guinea. Inspired by the work of Amartya Sen and Stephen Lewis, writers who bravely defend humanist ideals and enable the exposure of much of the empty rhetoric about diversity and equality as public relations talk, I argue that aid projects directed at reducing violence have failed because they do not confront the structural inequalities between men and women. The strategies wrongly assume widespread acceptance of human rights, and ignore the anthropological analyses that reveal the deeply ingrained cultural attitudes and economic relations that naturalise female disadvantage and male entitlement. As such projects also sustain the unequal power relations between donor countries and the nations who are recipients of aid, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that are directed towards redressing gender inequality are strategically inappropriate. In particular, the fine research that has been done by anthropologists on gender violence in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere in the Pacific has not really been ‘taken on board’ by aid agencies because it documents the fact that for women to gain the control over their own lives and bodies that ‘eliminating violence’ entails, men are going to have to lose it. Aid agencies negotiate projects with male politicians and these deals are underpinned by masculinist politics so the real nature of the changes required is never acknowledged.

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Submitted by Toksave
March 23, 2021
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