I saw people injure each other with bush knives, I saw mothers beating their children, I saw limbs being cut off, I saw extreme emotional suffering, I saw people die. But I also experienced the warmth and love that the local people generously share every day, despite all the violence, paradoxically to it.
MSF in Tari provides medical and psychological help for persons who have survived rape. Rape is a crime that affects many aspects of human life; it is a medical emergency, it is a psychological trauma and it has deep consequences on both family and societal level.
The amount of violence and the triggers for it can feel absurd… A husband can chop his wife if she asks why he comes home late. A woman beat her husband with a stick after he asked her for money.
Tari – a rural, little town in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands has become my home for the next nine months. Here MSF runs an emergency surgical program and a Family Support Center, my work place, where survivors of domestic and sexual violence receive medical and psychological care. The level of domestic and sexual violence in PNG is epidemic. Official data is hard to obtain due to lack of research, but it is estimated that around 70% of all PNG women face physical abuse during their lives. Around half of PNG women are raped in their lifetime. The numbers are horrific, and the numerous individual fates feel overwhelming.
On this Mother’s Day, let’s remember that 1,000 women still tragically die every day in childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications that are preventable with skilled clinicians, drugs and equipment. Maternal death is an ongoing crisis, but it is an avoidable crisis and it deserves our attention.
After a 10-year absence, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), has returned to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a collection of islands off the eastern coast of Papua New Guinea, to assist in delivering much-needed health care in the remote southern region of Buin. Since April 2011, a small MSF team has been working in Buin Health Center. Read more.