Protesters in Papua New Guinea and on social media have launched calls for tougher laws to protect women and girls from gender-based violence and brutality after the torture and death of a 19-year-old mother of two this week.
The death of Jenelyn Kennedy on Tuesday after six days of torture, allegedly by her partner Bosip Kaiwi – who is now in police custody charged over her killing – has shocked the nation.
Papuan New Guinean women “are as good as dead” when they become “victims of DV (domestic violence)”, said one social media writer who penned an open letter in protest to Prime Minister James Marape.
The poster, Melanie Palili, wrote:
“Dear Mr Prime Minister James Marape
“Knowing that the system has failed Jenelyn Kennedy, the latest victim of domestic violence, is enough to know that all PNG women are good as dead if and when they become victims of DV.
“There is an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness right now!!
“How do you expect Papua New Guinean women to live your vision to take back PNG and make it a rich nation when you have a system that is not working effectively to protect lives that are equally important as men, lives that also contribute to nation building.
“It is too late to protect Jenelyn now, but I hope Jenelyn’s case will bother you enough to intervene and give her the justice she deserves and protect lives of every other women who are being abused.
“Mr Prime Minister, the first national goal or directive principle as outlined in our Constitution states that “every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that each m
an or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others”.
“Create that environment for us. Let every Papua New Guinean woman have a voice in this country!!”
A police statement today denied social media postings and rumours claiming that the suspect in Kennedy’s killing had been released on bail.
“Our CID Homicide and Forensic Science team [has] worked tirelessly, and still are to build up a good case against the suspect,” Chief Superintendent N’Dranou Perou said in a statement on social media.
“[The suspect] was formally arrested and charged and will appear in court on Monday, 29th June 2020, to ensure his warrant is issued for transfer to CS Bomana.
“We would like to put to rest certain posts being shared on Facebook that the suspect has been granted bail. Police have no jurisdiction to grant bail for such serious cases. Only the courts do.
“Senior officers have physically checked and confirmed that Mr Bosip Kaiwi is in police custody, locked up in a holding cell at Boroko Police Station.”
In an ununusual step, the police also released images of Kaiwi being held in the cells at Port Moresby’s Boroko Police Station.
The death of Jenelyn Kennedy follows a spate of gender-based violence cases in Papua New Guinea, including elite PNG athlete Debbie Kaore, who was brutally assaulted by her partner in front of her children.