Sexual violence against children is a fraught, sensitive subject that is extremely difficult to raise without potentially causing further harm. As such, only a minority of incidents are reported to police. Still, cases are regularly brought to the attention of child protection authorities and police, as well as local community leaders and various justice fora.
This In Brief draws on a study undertaken in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 2019 in which we examined criminal justice responses to family and sexual violence. That study sheds some light on the kinds of cases brought to the attention of the authorities and the considerable challenges involved in reaching any kind of resolution through the criminal justice system. The consistently poor outcomes of sexual violence cases globally have been termed ‘the justice gap’, which is even more pronounced when the victims are children and the setting is a low-income country like PNG with seriously frayed and uneven service delivery.