New details from Oxfam on gender violence response in PNG

An Annual Update [pdf] from Oxfam PNG’s Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) program has shed further light on the drivers of violence in the country and shows that despite all the bad news about gender violence in Papua New Guinea, there is a response developing.

Oxfam, through its partners, is becoming a major provider of services. Its EVAW work supports 12 community-based organisations in nine provinces, which collectively reached 2774 women and girls with crisis services and 6599 men and boys with awareness-raising messages between July 2013 and May this year.

In early findings from Oxfam’s study of clients, using a sample consisting of 70 per cent female victims and 30 per cent male victims, four key causes of violence have been reported:

  • Marital problems including polygamy-related arguments and adultery.
  • Disagreements over financial management
  • Violence caused by accusations of sorcery.
  • Violence caused by drug and alcohol abuse.

The chart below shows what percentage of cases in each category occurred in urban, semi-rural or rural areas.

violence PNG EVAW Oxfam

The report also shows how sorcery allegations, particularly in the Highlands, are behind many cases of extreme violence. Figures from the Highlands Women’s Human Rights Defenders Network shows that 24 out of 25 relocation cases were due to sorcery-related violence. The group has relocated 122 people (including primary clients and accompanying people, such as children) assessed to be at risk since October last year.

Given the current dearth of data on the gender violence issue in PNG, this analysis of case data is valuable. While there is still much work to do, it is also positive to see a response developing, highlighting the importance of supporting civil society and local partners. We are aiming for the PNG Family and Sexual Violence Case Management Centre in Lae, which we are supporting in conjunction with Oxfam, to further contribute to this knowledge base and to the response.


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Ashlee Betteridge

Ashlee Betteridge was the Manager of the Development Policy Centre until April 2021. She was previously a Research Officer at the centre from 2013-2017. A former journalist, she holds a Master of Public Policy (Development Policy) from ANU and has development experience in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. She now works as a development consultant.


  • Alcohol and drug can be one of the contributing factors of gender base violence. What is the root cause of GBV? We might conclude with these but we have to look beyond the boundary. The root cause is the imbalance of power between men and women or boys and girls. There are different forms of violence; physical violence, sexual violence, economical violence, psychological/emotional violence, social violence and more.
    If you as a man or woman can balance the power by giving equal opportunity to each other for anything do and make fair decision which on you both can agree on. I believe there is won’t be any forms of violence. Its all depends on your decision and choice you make.
    I want to appeal to all provincial government to work in partnership with International NGOs and Community base Organisation to address these sensitive issue today. The provincial government need to support the work of the NGOs and roll out the programs to remote settings.
    From my end, I see that most NGOs are working very hard to reach the unreached places in the country.

  • Oxfam report stated that alcohol and drug abuse is one of the of causes of gender based violence, I am one of the few like voice in the wilderness trying to assist to reduce the problem. However, international donors like Oxfam pour a lot of money into HIV AIDS programs and not drug awareness and rehabilitation programs.

    Can International donors change their policy and assist in drug awareness and training as well. To create a sober environment, free from drug problems would also reduce gender based violence and create happy families.

    Philip Kai Morre
    Alcohol and Drug Rehab
    Simbu Province.

  • I who work as male advocator in Wosera Gawi in East Sepik Province of PNG. I support to end violence & bring peace & justice in surrounding communities in my country.

    From St Anna Crisis Centre (SACC) ESP,PNG.

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