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Three female journalists abducted, sexually assaulted in Papua New Guinea

NBC managing director Memafu Kapera tells staff a private security firm will be engaged to protect them.Photo: NBC

The Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) has called for swift and decisive action from the Papua New Guinea Police following the abduction and sexual assaults of three female journalists on Monday, October 13.

While police say they are 'waiting' for medical findings and talks with the victims to guide their investigation, news reports say that a bus doing evening drop-offs for National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) staff was taken over by a group of men in a settlement area in the national capital, Port Moresby on October 13. The men ordered the driver and all NBC male staff out and drove off with the three women on board.

Police found the vehicle and the women abandoned by their attackers later that evening in another part of the city. Two of the women were hospitalised with injuries from their ordeal.

"Pacific media colleagues condemn and denounce these attacks and call on police to act swiftly to bring those responsible to justice," said PFF co-chair Titi Gabi of Papua New Guinea. "The safety and security issues facing women journalists on the job, as well as getting to and from home, are a huge concern for women media workers in Papua New Guinea, where sexual and all other forms of violence are a major obstacle to their ability to do their jobs well."

Colleagues of the media workers employed by the state broadcaster of Papua New Guinea, the National Broadcasting Corporation staged a stop work protest Thursday, over their long-standing pleas for security.

Transport for workers is a key feature of job and personal safety for many, but women journalists working evening hours face increased threats to their personal safety and are often the target of sexual harassment.

"We commend the staff for stepping up their call on their bosses, and NBC's management for hearing the grievances of staff and quickly committing to support the three women as well as step up transport with private security for their bus routes," said Gabi. "We especially commend the provision of counselling support to those affected."

PFF co-chair Monica Miller of American Samoa conveyed support and solidarity from regional colleagues to the victims of the attack. "Our heart-felt thoughts are with our colleagues through their healing even as we are aware sexual assault against women is not uncommon across our societies as a whole. But our employers, the state, and all of us as individuals must do more to stop the culture of impunity when it comes to already-high levels of sexual violence against our Pacific sisters in Papua New Guinea," she said.

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Asia Pacific acting director Jane Worthington said: “We are deeply saddened by the news of the abduction of three female journalists on their way home from work. The rape of two of these women clearly highlights the concerning and dangerous situation for women journalists working in PNG. This is a completely unacceptable situation.”

IFJ and its affiliates across Asia-Pacific demanded a “no tolerance” stance on sexual violence and harassment of female media workers. “With more and more women entering the profession, we know too often women are the subject of threats, harassment, violence and rape used as a tool to silence their voice. Sometimes it is by corrupt governments, sometimes the harassment is on the job, or on the way home from work. The outcome is it is aimed at intimidating women journalists and removing them from the workforce. This situation must be remedied as an absolute priority by media companies in PNG.”

Date posted: October 20, 2014 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 24