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Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU), the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) and the PNG University of Technology (Unitech), joined forces to conduct research on the topic of family and sexual violence in Lae, with the aim of understanding women’s and men’s perspectives on family violence in an urban context in PNG, and developing alternative options to criminal justice intervention.
The project entitled “Addressing family and sexual violence in Lae: the potential of a family centred approach”, built upon a pilot study conducted in 2018, which examined the relationship between women’s experience of seeking support for family and sexual violence (FSV) and their children’s wellbeing and opportunities for education in Lae, PNG’s second largest city.
In the 2018 pilot study, Dr Michelle Rooney (ANU Crawford School of Public Policy), Associate Professor Miranda Forsyth (ANU School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet)), Mary Aisi (UNITECH) and Dr Dora Kuir-Ayius (UPNG), identified links between the way women respond to family violence and their economic situation, as well as evidence indicating that the violence women experience, can in many cases lead to inter-generational family violence and cycles of poverty.
In the next stage of the project, the aforementioned researchers together with Dustran Lawihin and Joshua Goa, academics in the Social Work department at UPNG, considered men’s perspectives on FSV, given that they hold considerable agency in changing patterns of violence.
Among the many important results of the study which were presented at a seminar at the ANU Crawford school mid-November, was that the root of FSV often resides in the perceptions of imbalance of power and complying with certain cultural and social norms related to male dominance within the family.
Associate Professor Miranda Forsyth (ANU School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet)) commented: “The study shows the importance of adopting an approach to family violence that allows agency for both men and women to pursue multiple avenues of response.”
“We hope that our research will enable policy-makers to develop better strategies to sequence state responses, so women and men are not so afraid of the law covering them up ‘like a blanket’ as some of our interviewees have noted.”
The joint research project is funded by the Asia Pacific Innovation Program (APIP) Research Development scheme and the ANU-UPNG partnership project funded by DFAT administered by Development Policy Centre, Crawford.