Client stories

The following stories gives an insight on how Femili PNG’s Case Management Centres (CMC) support survivors of family and sexual violence, including survivors of sorcery-related violence to access the available services and to rebuild their lives.

The clients have kindly given permission for their stories to be used. All identifying information has been removed to protect their safety (including client names being changed).

On 29th March 2018, the Goroka National Court sentenced a 35 year-old man to 23 years imprisonment with hard labor for Kidnapping and Sexual Abuse of a minor (7 years for Kidnapping and 16 years for Sexual Abuse).

In early 2009, *Ruthy, six years old at that time, went to a local market with her mother to sell betelnuts and cigarettes which is a routine activity for the family to earn some income to sustain their livelihood in Lae City. Ruthy was upset when her mother did not buy her ice cream, so she went a little further from where her mother was. She was tricked by a stranger (now prisoner) who pretended to be her uncle. He lured her with sweets and took her to the Highlands bus stop at Eriku where he again lied to her that they would go on a short bus trip and then return to her mother.

The man took Ruthy to his village in Eastern Highlands Province where he held her captive, and raped her continuously. This led to arguments between him and his wife. Because of the arguments, the man’s sister sold Ruthy to another family for K200. Ruthy was then treated as a ‘’hausmeri’’ (housemaid) for five years. During this time, she was also used to care for another child with physical disabilities.

During the period that Ruthy was abducted and held captive in Goroka, her father used every means possible to search for his daughter. He placed a missing person’s report at the police station in Lae and also went to other provinces in the Highlands, including Madang and Sepik, but his search was unsuccessful. He also went on radio both in Lae and Goroka with the help of Morobe FM.

In October 2014, at the age of 11, Ruthy managed to escape back to Lae and searched for her family with the help of another woman in the prisoner’s village. She was given directions to the local market in Lae where she was kidnapped from. From there, she was able to find her way home and was finally reunited with her family. Ruthy received medical treatment at the Family Support Centre (FSC) at Angau Memorial Hospital and then was referred to Femili PNG (FPNG) on 11th November 2014.

FPNG was newly established at that time and had just begun its operations in Lae. After Ruthy’s intake as FPNG’s client, her case was reported to the Lae Sexual Offense Squad (SOS) at the Lae Central Police Station. Unfortunately, the Lae SOS couldn’t assist because the abuse occurred in Goroka, and this was out of their jurisdiction. The Lae Criminal Investigation Division (CID) registered the case for abduction, but the rape case was referred to the Goroka SOS as the incident occurred in Goroka.

There were a lot of challenges faced at the initial stage when FPNG  tried to coordinate with partners in Lae, Goroka and even Australia to ensure that Ruthy’s case was given the priority it deserved and appropriate legal advice. This was because of issues such as the location of Ruthy’s parents, for instance her father was a resident of Lae and her mother was living in her village in the Southern Highlands Province. So the travel and accommodation costs associated with her parents seeing detectives in Goroka were covered by FPNG. There was an instance where Ruthy’s file went missing and FPNG had to literally collect each witness’s statement again, compile the file and send the file through Express Air Carrier to Goroka SOS.

After the case was formally handed to Goroka SOS in October 2015, the police attempted to arrest the man but couldn’t locate him. On 24th August 2016, he was finally arrested and the case went through the committal process at the Goroka District Court in September 2016. He was remanded in custody until his matter was committed to the National Court in Goroka on 16th February 2017. The trial was scheduled for November 2017, but due to the court vacation period, it was rescheduled to the 6th and 7th of March 2018.

Two weeks before the trial date in Goroka, FPNG’s Child Protection Officer (CPO) coordinated with partners in Lae and Goroka to provide the necessary support to Ruthy and her family, such as the accommodation and travel expenses from Lae to Goroka and back.  This made it possible for all crucial state witnesses to be on the ground in Goroka when the matter was called for trial to commence.

Ruthy’s father expressed his deepest gratitude for the assistance that FPNG provided him and his daughter since 2014. He said, ‘’there were delays along the way, and the process in getting justice seemed too long which caused me to have doubts on whether the case would go through to court.’’ He said that even though it took years, he was very happy that a local NGO such as Femili PNG existed at the time to support him in getting justice for his daughter. ‘’I felt that I had the support I needed. Femili PNG really supported me like a family, and this gave me the strength to pursue the case. I firmly believe that had it not been for Femili PNG, this case would not have been pursued through to the end.’’ he added.

He concluded that most times a lot of people give up along the way because of the delays, and don’t get the justice they deserve. He said, ‘’regardless of how long it may take, or the challenges that will cause you to have doubts and give up, don’t give up, pursue justice until you get it.’’ He wanted to encourage people to never give up in pursuing justice, and for service providers and NGOs to continue and work closely together so that positive outcomes can be achieved.

With effective coordination between FPNG and partners such as FSC at ANGAU Memorial Hospital, Welfare Offices of Goroka and Lae, Goroka SOS, Goroka District and National Courts, Public Prosecutor’s Goroka Office, Kafe Women’s Association, justice was received for the girl who went through this horrific ordeal at a very young age.

Ruthy is now safe with her family who are very supportive to her. Her disappearance had cost the marriage of her parents and they are currently living separately. However, they are both providing the support that she needs.

Although the Ruthy’s trauma is still triggered from time to time, she has displayed incredible strength in overcoming her experience. She has rebuilt her self-esteem and is determined to complete her education. In fact, in 2017 she achieved a dux award from her school.

‘Man gets 27 years for incest’ was the headline in the Post Courier of Tuesday 26th June this year (2018) after a 47-year-old man was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to 2 counts of incest. The facts revealed that his incestuous relationship with his daughter led to her conceiving and giving birth to 7 children, the youngest was 5 months old at the time of reporting. From this incestuous relationship the perpetrator again subjected his eldest daughter/granddaughter to forceful sexual intercourse that resulted in her giving birth to a baby boy at the tender age of 14.

Children, especially girls, deserve to feel safe and protected in their homes, and not abused. This is a story of a mother and her eldest daughter who were sexually abused by the same man.

*Janet was first sexually abused by her biological father (offender) when she was doing her grade 8. Janet told her mother about the incident, who then scolded her husband. But the offender did not stop, he continued his incestuous act to his only daughter. Janet was raised in her father’s village, surrounded by a whole village of her father’s relatives who were fully aware of the client’s situation. However, none of them intervened to assist Janet and break this cycle of abuse.

Janet’s mother was also aware of the abuse but could not do much because she was sick at that time. When she wanted to report the abuse, her husband would threaten to kill her. Knowing what was happening to her daughter, Janet’s mother got sick after worrying a lot as she too did not have any support in her husband’s village. Janet’s mum later died from illness.

With no support from her relatives, Janet was stuck in this incestuous cycle of abuse. This resulted in her bearing 7 children from her father. During the period of this incestuous relationship, she bore children within close range of each other, the oldest being 14 at the time of reporting, and the youngest was 5 months old.

The offender then started abusing the eldest of the 7 children, *Jane. Due to the ongoing sexual abuse, Jane (the daughter/granddaughter of the offender) became pregnant at the age of 14 and gave birth to a baby boy.

She was brought to the Angau Memorial General Hospital whilst in labour and the fact of her tender age alerted the Health Extension Officer (HEO) to her plight. The HEO made contact with the Femili PNG staff. They responded immediately by going directly to the hospital and assessing the situation. The child mother needed baby clothes for her new born baby including diapers. She was vulnerable, being a child herself, and had no adult relative there to support her through the process of giving birth.

With the assessment made by Femili PNG staff, an urgent consultation was made with the FSVAC Secretariat. The Welfare office and the police were notified about the case and a case conference was conducted to plan and discuss the case and actions to be taken by the partners (service providers) who were directly involved.

The case conference identified the need for immediate protection of the child mother as well her infant as being paramount because the child mother was emotionally disturbed after giving birth. It was recommended in the case conference that in the best interest of the child mother and her infant, that both be moved to a safe location and the child mother be supported with trauma counselling by Femili PNG and Welfare. With this referral, Femili PNG staff including the Welfare Officer immediately intervened and removed the child mother from the Angau Memorial General Hospital and transferred her and her infant to a safe location.  Basic needs such as baby clothes and food were provided to the child mother.

Finally, it was the beginning of the end of the offender’s incestuous cycle of abuse and the continuing silence of the offender’s community, when Jane’s case was attended to by the Femili PNG and its partners. With close coordination from the partners, the case was finally committed to the National Court in October of 2017.

Presiding Judge, Justice Frazer Pitpit, when delivering the decision against the offender at the Lae National Court in June this year (Post Courier, Tuesday 26th June 2018) said, ‘’the offence is prohibited by the three sources of laws namely, criminal, Christian principles and customary law throughout the entire country.’’

Justice Pitpit added that the offender has left nothing good behind for his family, except, hardship, shame and pain. He continued that the offender will no longer pose a threat when he is released from prison after serving his time. The offender will be serving his time in prison with hard labour.

Justice has been served, but these innocent girls will carry the scars with them for the rest of their lives. This act of incest has been perpetrated across 2 generations by the very person who has been entrusted with their care and upbringing, who has for reasons known only to himself or for self-gratification has left emotionally scarred children who will be subjected to the ridicule and stigmatisation of something that was not of their doing.

Femili PNG together with its partners in Lae will continue to work closely together in addressing this scourge of family and sexual violence by helping survivors’ access services and ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice to account for their crimes.

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In a major breakthrough for survivors of family and sexual violence, in May 2016 the National Court in Lae sentenced a couple to a total of 50 years in prison with hard labour for persistent sexual abuse of a child under the age of 16.Judge Frazer Pitpit sentenced the perpetrators – identified as the survivor’s aunt Regina, and her de-facto partner Gideon to 25 years imprisonment each. The female perpetrator, however, was deemed to be an accomplice and will serve 10 years in prison and the other 15 years on a good behaviour bond.

The survivor, Anna (not her real name), was sent to live with her aunt and her partner after the death of her father. She was 13 years old when the couple began sexually abusing and physically assaulting her. As a result, she fell pregnant and was forced to abandon her education, and experienced severe psychological trauma.

In November 2014, Anna was referred to Femili PNG by the Office of the Public Prosecutor. While awaiting the National Court hearing, Femili PNG helped repatriate Anna and her mother, who reported the abuse to police after becoming aware of it to Wewak.“Femili PNG was very new at that time when I consulted them for their help,” said the Victim Liaison Officer (VLO) at the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

In May 2016, the Victim Liaison Officer and the Investigating Police Officer requested Femili PNG’s assistance again.Femili PNG met all travel, food and accommodation costs for Anna and her mother to appear before the court. “Without Femili PNG’s assistance, we could not have executed the case,” the VLO said. The VLO continued, “I am very pleased with the timely assistance Femili PNG provided. Without their help, we could not have achieved this result.”

After an eight day trial, on Thursday, 19th May, the National Court Room No. 3 was at capacity. The atmosphere was tense as curious members of the public stood shoulder to shoulder to witness the outcome of the landmark case. The judge entered and the two accused were summoned. Judge Pitpit read aloud the findings of the trial. Both accused categorically denied guilt. After three long hours of deliberation, the Judge concluded that there was overwhelming evidence to sentence the two accused.Judge Pitpit concluded that the couple lied to the court and their plea of innocence was untrue. He said the statements provided by the victim and the witness were factual.

In the past, authorities have struggled to prosecute such cases, making this outcome particularly significant.“This was one of the very few cases we’ve successfully executed,” the Arresting Officer said. The Arresting Officer continued, “most times, when there are no witnesses, cases like this are thrown out. But with good networking and collaboration with other organizations and individuals, we have created history.”

Anna and her mother were very thankful and expressed gratitude towards all the institutions who supported them, including Femili PNG. Anna’s mother said that without Femili PNG, they could not have come back to Lae to provide their statements. She acknowledged all those who assisted them from the very beginning of the process until they achieved justice. She said, “I am very pleased and thankful to Family Support Center at Angau Hospital, Welfare, Australian Federal Police, Victim Liaison Office, the police and everybody who helped us in this case. All your hard work in assisting my daughter has paid off. I wish to specifically thank Femili PNG. We did not have any money to pay for plane tickets and you helped. Thank you.”  She continued, “Now, I am looking forward to focusing on my children’s education and to build a better future for them.”

The survivor, Anna, said, “The pain will be with me for many years to come, but I’m happy that justice has been done.” She added, “I am happy to be back at school. But it will take a long while for me to forget what happened to me.”

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Rose was physically and sexually abused by her husband. Femili PNG assisted her by moving her to a safe house and provided food and clothing while she was there. A Femili PNG Case Worker assisted Rose with family tracing and to access other needed services such as medical check-up and attaining a Permanent Protection Order for 2 years from the Court.

Rose verbally explained to the Case Worker that she no longer wanted to continue her relationship and requested to return home to her family where she would be safe. Upon her wish, the Case Worker assisted her and she was successfully repatriated and reunited with her family in her home province. She was assisted with a start-up kit and reintegration support to help her with her relocation.

Rose was very grateful and appreciated the support and assistance provided to her by Femili PNG and other service providers.

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Rachael is a widowed mother of one who never thought she would be harmed by the people she knew.

Rachael was physically assaulted by a group of men in her community because she was accused of sorcery after the death of someone in the area where she lived. She couldn’t run away because she was badly injured from the cuts and bruises that the perpetrators inflicted on her. She was tortured and almost killed, when fortunately, the police intervened and rescued her.

Rachael was later referred to Femili PNG by the police and was assisted to access  medical treatment for her wounds at the hospital and was assisted with her other basic needs during this time.

In coordination with OXFAM, Rachael was safely relocated with the help of the police to a safer location until the arrest of the perpetrators.

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Emily* and her children were repatriated to Port Moresby by Femili PNG (working with partner organisations) after family tracing and discussion with her family occurred.

Emily’s background involved on-going intimate partner violence and sexual violence from her husband since the start of her marriage. All of her children showed physical signs of malnutrition and one was hospitalized. Femili PNG arranged safe house accommodation for Emily and her children, where they stayed for seven weeks while waiting for the outcome of legal proceedings.

Femili PNG supported Emily as she reported her case to the police. Her husband was arrested and charged, and the court ordered his employer to directly pay PGK 400.00 every fortnight into Emily’s bank account. In this case of repatriation, Femili PNG worked closely with the Child Protection Officer of the Welfare Department based in Port Moresby. The Child Protection Officer conducted further family assessment work in Port Moresby prior to the repatriation. The Child Protection Officer then collected Emily and her children at Jacksonsairport, initiated the re-integration with her family, and purchased goods to assist Emily to start a small business in Port Moresby. Client follow-up and monitoring over the longer term was handled by the Port Moresby Welfare Department.

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Louisa* had been experiencing on-going intimate partner violence from her husband since marriage until she accessed Femili PNG’s services. During the client’s initial assessment and intake, Louisa appeared to be severely beaten and had sustained a lot of wounds. She was supported by a Case Worker in reporting the abuse to the police. The client’s husband was later arrested and was charged and currently on good behavior bond.

Louisa was provided with a safe accommodation for two weeks and received all the medical care and treatment that she needed while being supported through the process of providing her statement to the police. Louisa decided she wanted to move back to her home village. Our Case Worker carried out family tracing and established a network with stakeholders in her home province to provide ongoing support. Louisa relocated there with her two children. She was also provided with a business start-up kit so she could be economically independent and be able to support the needs of her children.

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Alice’s story

Alice* who was pregnant at the time she was referred to Femili PNG by the Family Support Centre (FSC) at Angau Hospital. During the initial assessment, Alice said that she was constantly experiencing physical and sexual abuse from her husband. She said she had also had several miscarriages as a result of the abuse. At first, she filed for an Interim Protection Order (IPO).But while on an IPO, her husband assaulted her again in breach of the court order.

After this, Alice left her home with her children and asked a Femili PNG Case Worker to support her in filing a case at the District Court against her husband for the breach of the IPO. Because of this, Alice and her children needed to stay in a safe house for their protection. Femili PNG assisted with their daily needs such as food and clothing while the case was being managed.

While awaiting the outcome of the court case, the Case Worker carried out family tracing and contacted local service providers in Alice’s home province to assess the possibility of repatriation. After a few discussions over the phone with the client’s father, her family decided to receive her back and agreed to take care of the client and her children. In December 2016, Alice was repatriated to her parents’ home. Local service providers such as the village magistrate and police were there to receive the client.As part of the repatriation support, Alice was provided a business start-up kit to earn her own income. In this way, shewouldnot be a burden to her parents and will be able to support the needs of her children.

When she was reunited with her family, Alice thanked the Femili PNG staff and everyone who made it possible for her to access these services. She said we could share her story to help other women reading it who may be going through the same situation as her.

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Ruth’s story

Ruth* was initially seen at the Family Support Centre, with history of ongoing intimate partner violence from her husband. She was then referred to Femili PNG and was assisted to make a statement to the police, and referred to the court clerk, who registered her case before the magistrate. Ruth’s case was heard by the court and was successful. A permanent Protection Order was issued for two years.

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Isa’s story

Isa* was initially seen at the Family Support Centre with history of ongoing intimate partner violence from her husband. She was referred to Femili PNG to assist her to seek an Interim Protection Order from the courts. Isa is illiterate, and couldn’t write a statement. a Femili PNG Case Worker helped her to write her statement and assisted with a referral note to the court clerk, who registered Isa’s case before a magistrate. Her case was deferred many times due to conferences and magistrates being sick, however Isa persevered.

Eventually the case was heard. Isa’s husband did not turn up so a warrant of arrest was issued by the magistrate and taken to the police Family and Sexual Violence Unit (FSVU) by Isa. Her husband was called in and was arrested. He was held in police custody, but was then bailed out for K300.00. They appeared again in court, which found in Isa’s favour. The case was successful with a permanent Protection Order being issued.

*Names changed and all identifying information removed to protect the safety of clients.

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http://www.femilipng.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/3516443241_21cf3a4352_z.jpghttp://www.femilipng.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/3516443241_21cf3a4352_z-300x300.jpgAshleeAbout usClient stories The following stories gives an insight on how Femili PNG’s Case Management Centres (CMC) support survivors of family and sexual violence, including survivors of sorcery-related violence to access the available services and to rebuild their lives. The clients have kindly given permission for their stories to be used. All...Supporting survivors of family and sexual violence in Lae