Monday, August 3, 2015

How can ‪#‎PNG‬ develop if half of its population is caged?

It has been really great to see the angry reaction from many Papua New Guineans, regarding the photo taken of two women dancing in a cage (see picture). Deep down, many have felt that Papua New Guinean women should not be exploited.

But the issue is currently being wrongly debated. Many have attacked the two women and said so many nasty things. Others argued fiercely against cage dancing. Anyone who has tried to balance the debate has been seen as either unPapua New Guinean or unchristian. 

So how do we address this issue appropriately? I think many who have seen the cage-dancing photo on Facebook have condemned the act without taking into account the context with which it is being done.

It is not good enough to just determine whether cage dancing is right or wrong, but to also understand and address the root causes. 

I think therefore that its wrong to attack the ladies not because what they did was right, but because these women are victims of the many societal pressures that cage all Papua New Guinean women.

I also think that a lot of the moral and religious arguments attacking this particular scenario were valid but shallow if they do not take into account the social, economic and political drivers of such activities.

Human behavior at its most basic is defined by self-preservation and survival of the species. Thus one must ask how certain environmental factors influence such behavior. In the case of the cage dancers, we must ask what social, political, economic, biological factors push or pull Papua New Guinean women in cage dancing.

It is not good enough to just stop cage dancing but to liberate the women who are caged.

We should therefore ask ourselves why two women in a resource rich country have to dance in a cage. 

Rather than passing religious or cultural judgments on the act of cage dancing we should be identifying what pushes or attracts women into the cage.

I have seen some commentators state that cage dancing will lead to or increase prostitution. We need to ask why women in PNG have to sell themselves. Is it because women in PNG don’t have the same opportunities to health, education, jobs, political participation, community leadership, etc.… that men in Papua New Guinea have?

Many Papua New Guineans may be offended and appalled by the picture of women dancing in cages but I wonder how any if they are as equally outraged by the;
- Cage of Domestic violence
- Cage of Mothers having their bilums snatched
- Cage of Mothers and sisters not being able to move freely
- Cage of Mothers dying during child birth
- Cage of women being raped
- Cage of women not being recognized at work
- Cage of women not equally participating in Politics
- Cage of girls missing out on education opportunities

Hardly anyone quotes Bible verses or make arguments about “not being our culture” when it comes to freeing women from all the other CAGES that exist.

Many if not all of these cages are built by Papua New Guinean men and women, using cultural or Biblical narratives to justify keeping women in cages.

For instance, when a woman’s phone or bilum gets stolen, we men blame the victim for being at the wrong place or “failing” to take extra precautions. None of us it seems want to free women in PNG from the CAGE of insecurity. Instead we attack them for “not using their heads.”

Women make up half of PNG’s population. 

The scary truth is that half of Papua New Guinea’s population is caged and very little is being done to break those cages. 

How does PNG develop itself if half of its population is caged?

We need a mature conversation about how we free our women from the cages that they are imprisoned in. One that’s based on empathy and respect for each and every Papua New Guinean. It is not about pointing fingers or being judgmental but working together to create a better society for all of us –meri na man – to live in.

We can all start by identifying the things that cage the women and girls in our own families and communities, and work towards uprooting them.

Monday, June 29, 2015

West Papua: Reading between #PNG’s diplomatic lines

Prime Minister O’Neill understands the tightrope balance he has to strike on the issue of West Papua particularly in managing the expectations of his fellow Melanesians.

When he gave the speech in February highlighting the need for the PNG government to advocate on human rights in West Papua, it was interpreted throughout the nation and regionally as a questioning of Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua. 

This interpretation appears in the following statement by Partners for Melanesia and its affiliates:

“We have recorded the speeches of the Hon. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill himself because as Melanesians we play “oral politics” and we stand by our Prime Minister on his statement, human rights and sovereignty equals freedom for West Papua.”

The Prime Minister however has been quick however to water down suggestions that the PNG government questions Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua.
So how did the sovereignty issue pop up? The crux of the matter is with the ambiguity of the PM’s original speech back in February 2015. In it, the Prime Minister talked about PNG’s “moral obligation” to speak about events in West Papua without acknowledging Indonesian sovereignty.
Clearly what the Prime Minister had done could be interpreted as interfering in the internal affairs of another sovereign state. His speech had therefore had the unintended consequence of adding impetus to the agenda of decolonizing West Papua.
Around the Pacific and in West Papua, many welcomed the speech by Prime Minister O’Neill.
The Prime Minister therefore had a lot of explaining to when the Indonesian President visited PNG. Over two-thirds of his welcome address at the state dinner hosted for President Widodo, was an explanation of the stance his government had taken regarding the West Papua question.
“For some years now I have been engaging in dialogue with our friends in Indonesia on issues relating to our relationship with Melanesians in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua,” he said during his speech at the state dinner.
Interestingly enough, O’Neill’s speech also raises further questions about the West Papua issue. Whilst vaguely acknowledging Indonesian sovereignty of West Papua, the Prime Minister talked about the desire to “welcome our Melanesian Brothers and Sisters from Papua and West Papua into the Melanesian Spearhead Group.” This he said must be done “with the endorsement of the Indonesian Government.”
Obviously West Papua has a unique history and special circumstances however the PM’s speech also recognises that, “Melanesians are the people of many countries.”
“We are the Melanesian people in the sovereign countries of Papua New Guinea, of Indonesia, of the Solomon Islands, of Australia, of Vanuatu, of New Caledonia, and of Fiji – and Melanesian people in other countries like Malaysia and Philippines,” O’Neill states.
A tricky question that arises is that why does the PNG Government think the Melanesian people in Indonesia should get special political treatment, but is silent on the same treatment of Melanesians in Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia?
The only other group of Melanesians receiving a similar treatment are the Kanaky of New Caledonia. Strangely enough, O’Neill doesn’t mention them in his speech. Is it because O’Neill envisages that West Papuans will inevitably follow the path taken by the New Caledonians who will soon be voting for Independence from France?

Want more stories and analysis?

You can find more great stuff like this in the current issue of EAGLE TIMES MAGAZINE


Port Moresby
-Boroko Food World
- Waterfront Food World
- Ela Beach Gift shop
- Gateway gift shop
- Level 2 Vision city Star Bookshop

- Food mart
- Melanesian Hotel
- Lae International Hotel Gift shop

Mt. Hagen
-AGC news agency
- Christian Bookshop
-Highlander Hotel, grandsons gift shop.

-MADANG lodge
-Madang Lodge

Saturday, May 9, 2015

PNG Christians must call on Jokowi to Free West Papua

Next week the President of Indonesia visits PNG. This is an atheist’s interpretation of the theology of the West Papua issue

There is the famous story of the Good Samaritan that is told in the Bible. A story really not aimed at how Good the Samaritan was but what a bunch of hypocrites the Priest and the Levite were.

So the Biblical story goes that a man was robbed and beaten and left on the side of the road to die. Along came a priest, who just ignored the victim and passed by. Then came the Levite (a person from the priestly tribe), who also just walked past. Then came the Samaritan (the outcast) who rescued the victim and provided healthcare. According to the Bible, the Samaritan had done the most christian thing.

Well now lets apply this to West Papua. The people there are being robbed of their land and resources and are being raped, tortured and murdered by Indonesians. This has been going on for decades right across the border from PNG whilst the Priests (Churches) and Levites (Christians) in Papua New Guinea have hidden their heads in the sand like ostriches.

If there’s one reason why many Christians in PNG should rot in Hell, it’s because they did not do what the Good Samaritan did and speak up against the victimization of West Papuans.

To those idiots who turned up to welcome the 400 year old Bible, that was an act of idolatry. You all now need some penance and my suggestion is that you get your sinful asses down to the airport to “welcome” the President of Indonesia when he comes to visit PNG.

Remind that leader of a murderous nation that Melanesians in West Papua have always been free for over 50 000 years and have never ceded sovereignty to Indonesia. Remind Jokowi that it is time to let go of West Papua and end decades of colonial rule.