Port Moresby Says NO to Street Harassment


Author: Lizzette Soria

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea – More than 500 people joined a UN Women-sponsored day of activities to press for an end to harassment of women and girls in public places in Port Moresby.

Schoolgirls on board the Meri Seif bus discuss how to deal with harassment. Photo: UN Women/Katherine Webber

The men, women and youths gathered at Gordons Market to listen to government and civic leaders talk about the serious impact of harassment in markets and other public places, and the ways in which they can deal with it. They were given postcards with information about harassment.

The April 12 event was organized by UN Women’s Safe Cities Programme in partnership with the National Capital District Commission (the municipal administration) and the Royal PNG Constabulary (the national police force). It was part of worldwide activities aimed at encouraging safe public spaces for all.

Kay Kaugla speaks out against street harassment at the April 12 event at Gordons Market. Photo: UN Women/Christina Cheong

The district commission’s Gender Desk officer, Kay Kaugla, told the Gordons Market crowd: “Markets are important for the livelihood of many families, and we need to ensure women feel safe to move around freely. I am inviting all of you, youths and young men listening today, to change your attitudes towards women and girls and start supporting us so we can make market space safe for vendors to generate more income.”

The same day, the Safe Cities team partnered with the Ginigoada Foundation to promote the anti-harassment campaign on the female passengers-only Seif Meri, or Safe Bus. The foundation is a local NGO that has been carrying out the UN Women-funded Safe Transport Project.

Groups of female students from Bomana Primary School and Koari Park High School boarded the bus as it passed their schools. Guided by UN Women Safe Transport Project Specialist Bessie Maruia, the students discussed forms of harassment, their rights to public spaces, and what they can do when harassed.

”I think there should be more programs in schools on violence against women like harassment, especially primary level, so young boys can learn how to respect girls,” a 14-year-old from the high school said. “Parents should start teaching boys to be better citizens.”

Many girls use public buses to go to and from school each day, so they said they were happy to have a safe bus to travel on.

Sexual harassment, including during travel, is a serious problem in Papua New Guinea that limits the social and economic rights and opportunities of women and girls.

The April 12 activities in Port Moresby were part the sixth annual International Harassment Week organized by a U.S.-based NGO; it involved 30 countries this year.

For more information:

Please contact: Lizzette Soria,
Safe Cities Programme Specialist, UN Women Papua New Guinea
Phone: +675 321 9855, ext. 101 Mobile: +675 70309435
E-mail: [ Click to reveal ]
Website: http://png.unwomen.org