Domestic Violence in papua New Guinea
Domestic Violence is one of the issues in Papua New Guinea. A study by Suson Toft, there is considerable violence within many marriages in Papua New Guinea. The study found that domestic violence occur but in rural and urban areas of Papua New Guinea. The following is the concluding findings from research edited by Susan Toft (1985)
Marriage is basically a civil contract engaged in by the partners (and, according to custom, their extended families) with a complex series of reciprocal rights and obligations. The state has a clear interest in the promotion of harmonious marriage and the lessening of any of its citizens' exposure to violence. However, it faces a most difficult task in the case of marital violence. A strictly legalistic approach cannot solve the problem and runs a risk of worsening the situation.
Marriage is a partnership. The partners depend on each other for psychological, social and economic benefits. In Papua New Guinea, as elsewhere in the world, certain levels of violence are tolerated (or occasionally even expected) in a certain proportion of marriage partnerships. Were the state to attempt to legislate against all marital violence, the result must be to destroy the marriage partnership. When a spouse depends on economic support from the marital partner who is incarcerated for domestic assault the victim of assault must suffer twice: first the assault, secondly the imprisonment of the breadwinner for assault. Needless to say, any children in the family must also suffer.
Whilst doing all it can to facilitate the handling of marital violence through existing channels in the courts and other agencies, the state must turn from dependency on legislation t o other means in any genuine attempt t o reduce domestic violence. Where there is irredeemable violent breakdown in a marriage the state works to protect the victims. This is legislated for already in Papua New Guinea. The effectiveness of the legislation may be questioned because the attitudes of the general population may not clearly support the legislation.
Much domestic violence is the result of accepted attitudes. Any solution to the lessening of domestic violence must attack this core problem. Simply stated, if one's attitude is such that frustrations may be released by hitting a spouse when some perceived fault arises, domestic violence will continue. If the attitude is changed to a belief that it is basically wrong to hit a spouse in the face of frustration then other avenues to vent disappointment and anger will be utilised. It would seem that the state should pursue a course of changing attitudes against the acceptability of domestic violence rather than further punitive legalistic measures which can only weaken the family, a consequence against the interests of the state.