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ENB Leaders condemn pack rape of a young woman

Staff Reporter 9/04/2014 | |
A LEADER in East New Britain Province has condemned the pack rape of an 18-year-old woman who was hospitalised for almost two weeks. The leaders said the alleged perpetrators are known but are yet to be arrested.

Bitapaka local level government president Cosmos Bauk said the community was ashamed of what happened and the people mobilised to tackle the issue head on. The rape occurred last month between Menebonbon and Bilur wards in the Bitapaka area of Kokopo District.

Family members of the victim (name withheld) said the young woman was returning home to Bilur from Kokopo with some male relatives when they were chased by a group of young men at Menebonbon. The woman and her companions made their way to a house belonging to a woman where she took refuge.

The family said the group of men followed them and threw stones at the house, chased away the men, broke down the door and abducted the woman.

The men allegedly took the woman to Kabanga plantation where they repeatedly raped her. Mr Bauk said the plantation security guards rescued the woman and took her to a relative’s house.

The young woman’s parents, who are teachers at a primary school located further downhill, were alerted the next morning. They took her back to the school and she was later taken to the Saint Mary’s Vunapope Hospital in Kokopo. Mr Bauk said the political leadership and education authorities were very concerned about the incident and the welfare of teachers and their families as well as the issue on violence against women and gender equality.

The community, led by the LLG president, rounded up the suspects and handed them over to police following a decision by leaders and teachers to suspend classes at the school if the suspects were not arrested. "We were supposed to suspend the school last week and gave the community five days for the culprits to be brought in," Mr Bauk said.

He said unfortunately, police released two of the five suspects who were brought to them. Mr Bauk said police stance on this rape case where the victim almost died is questionable, now that almost a month has passed since the incident while other suspects are still at large.

"This is a very serious issue," he said, adding that the release of two suspects and the slowness in arresting all the suspects is setting a bad precedent in the community.

He highlighted another rape case at Menebonbon last week. "I condemn police action with regards to this rape case in the strongest possible terms," he said.

However, according to ENB provincial police commander Superintendent Anthony Wagambie, 10 men were arrested and three of them charged with pack rape and are now in police custody.

He said the police believe there are more suspects and and the police are in close contact with the community to get them. Supt Wagambie also said they have received complaints from leaders at Bitapaka for police to speed up the arrest of the remaining suspects.

Meanwhile, all three ward members in the area and the people in the community met with the president and other leaders early this week at the school grounds to further discuss the issue. "We are serious about this issue. We want our women in ENB, Kokopo and Bitapaka to be free and feel safe," Supt Wagambie said.
ONE PNG / Post Courier

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