By Rebecca Kuku and Marjorie Finkeo in Port Moresby
As families prepare to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones, a safe house in Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby has kicked out gender-based violence survivors, leaving them homeless for the festive season.
One of the survivors, 37-year-old Gathy Peter from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, told the PNG Post-Courier that they were informed by staff from the safe house (named) that the house would be closed for holidays.
“So for those of us who have no family here in Port Moresby, they just left us at the Boroko police station and I have been here as I have nowhere to go,” she said.
“Another woman, who had her two children with her, was also left here but she has since left the station premises.”
Peter is a mother of three, she met her husband (named) when he went to Bougainville for the crisis and they got married, and in 1997 they moved to her husband’s hometown in Southern Highlands province.
“We had three kids, one boy and two girls, but life was not good, my husband was violent, so after four years, in 2012, I took my two daughters and ran away back to Bougainville, leaving behind my son who was just nine years old at that time.”
She said that in 2017, she came to Port Moresby for work but her husband found her and forced her to move in with him again, so she moved in with him at Gereka.
Badly beaten by husband
“But the violence continued, he would tell me to remove my clothes before he started beating me, he even brought home his girlfriend to live with us, telling me that she was his niece,” Peter said.
In June this year, Peter was badly beaten by her husband, who cut her with a machete from her head down to her feet.
“He kicked me in the face when I cried out in pain — when I spat the blood out, three of my teeth fell out too.
“A neighbour came in and stopped him, and I took the opportunity to run away, and walked from Gereka to 6-Mile at around 11pm in the night.
“I passed out somewhere near 6-Mile in front of a small tucker shop.
“A woman from there assisted me to the Gordon police station to file an official report with the FSVU (Family and Sexual Violence Unit), and I was put into a safe house (named).”
With no family and friends in Port Moresby, she was left homeless but was assisted by the Boroko Juvenile Unit to win her case against her husband, who has since been sentenced to two years in prison.
In safe house for six months
Peter has been living in that safe house for more than six months but was dumped at the Boroko police station car park area.
She is living at the precinct of the Boroko police station. She is far from home and family.
“Christmas is near and I long for my children and the white sandy beaches of my home.”
Attempts made to get comments from the safe house were unsuccessful yesterday.
However, according to the sources — women who were given refuge at the safe house were all sent back to their families as the safehouse was closing for the festive season.
Only Gathy Peter and the mother of two were dropped off at Boroko Police Station as they do not have families in Port Moresby.
However, the mother of two has since been given refuge at another safe house, leaving Peter behind.
Rebecca Kuku and Marjorie Finkeo are PNG Post-Courier reporters. Republished with permission.