Papua New Guineans go viral on social media condemning police wife beater

06/10/2011 14:24


The Facebook group page PAPUA NEW GUINEANS AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE which was created on Wednesday

5 October. It appears to be the fastest growing PNG-related Facebook group with over 4000 members signing up in less

than 24 hours.


Papua New Guineans have gone viral on social media expressing their anger and frustrations at the failure by local police to arrest rogue former copper and wife beater Simon Bernard.

The plight of Joy Wartovo and the beating she suffered at the hands of her former husband Bernard over a six-year period horrified the nation and compelled police to sack and prosecute the policeman. However, he evaded arrest and recently assaulted his wife resulting in her being hospitalised with stab wounds.

The police top brass yesterday issued another appeal for his arrest with the NCD Metropolitan Superintendent Joseph Tondop warning that policemen found harbouring him will also be charged and sacked.

Despite the assurance by police Papua New Guineans have taken to Facebook and other social media to express their frustrations. A Facebook group PAPUA NEW GUINEANS AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE was created yesterday putting more spotlight on Ms Wartovo’s suffering as well as bringing the issue to the fore.

“The name of this group is PAPUA NEW GUINEANS AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE because despite it being inspired by the sad story of Joy Wartovo, it is violence in the homes that is very much of concern, and includes violence against children and husbands too. Just so you know, we're not gender biased although stats show that women suffer the most at the hands of men,” said one of the group’s administrators.

The group has been growing at a phenomenal rate in the last 24 hours with its membership currently standing at 4075 (and increasing).

Since the creation of the Facebook group yesterday members have dug out recent stories of domestic violence in PNG and posted them for debate. One example was the case of a PNG scholar who was hauled before the Boroko district court in June for assaulting his wife.

Using social media to combat gender inequalities and violence has been used in other parts of the world. In Egypt a website called HarrassMap was created to randomly monitor sex attacks via email, text messages and even Twitter. Human Rights First, a US-based non-profit non-partisan international human rights organisation, said social media can be a catalyst for change as well as an advocacy and awareness tool.