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Home » » Stop – Enough! Voilence Against Women in West Papua

Stop – Enough! Voilence Against Women in West Papua

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on July 13, 2011 | 5:22 PM

John Barr
By John Barr

July 14th, 2011

 In 2004 five Indonesian Special Services troops were ambushed and killed in the Puncak Jaya Regency of West Papua by the OPM, an outlawed group of Papuans fighting for independence from Indonesia. A military operation followed to hunt down those responsible. Locals were attacked and intimidated as homes were burnt, gardens were destroyed, livestock were shot dead, and hundreds of people fled into the jungle for protection.
The violence and intimidation escalated as women became targets. Last week while visiting West Papua I became acutely aware of what happened. Here is one of many stories.……
“We fled to the jungle but we had very little to eat except the leaves of trees. So I was forced to return to what was left of the village gardens to get some food.  Near the village my teenage daughter and I were ambushed by some Indonesian soldiers who were hiding on the side of the road. There were seven of them. They grabbed me and forced me on the ground. My daughter started crying but they gagged her. I said… “go ahead and rape me but please leave my daughter alone!” The oldest soldier told me to stop and then three of them raped my daughter. The other four raped me. We both wept. My daughter is now grown up but has not married. If she sees a soldier coming she is frightened and wants to cry. We live in fear. We can’t do anything now.”
Last year the National Commission on Violence Against Women in Indonesia, together with a number of other women’s rights groups commissioned a report into violence against women in West Papua during the period 1963-2009. Some 261 cases were carefully documented with 138 cases concerning women who were sexually violated by state security forces (military and police).
Other cases concerned the plight of women living along the border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. There are 50 military posts along this border and a woman from near Merauke shared her story.
This woman was first raped by soldiers at the age of 14. Another violation took place a few years later when she was raped a second time at gun point. Then after she had married, given birth to two children and was pregnant with her third child, a pistol was rammed into her mouth she was raped by a soldier for a third time. Her husband found out  and, in a fit of anger, divorced her. Then in 2008 a member of the Indonesian Special Services forced the woman into a vehicle and took her to a remote location. Here she was raped for a fourth time. In the same area seventeen women have recorded similar experiences. Fourteen have given birth as a result of falling pregnant.
Violence against women in West Papua is documented in a report “Stop Sudah!” (Stop Enough!). This report casts light on the fear and the violence experienced by the most vulnerable communities in West Papua at a time when security forces (who are supposed to be there to protect the community) seem to exercise little restraint or accountability.
Our church partner in West Papua, the Evangelical Christian Church in the Land of Papua, has established the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Unit (KPKC) under the leadership of Rev Dora Balubun to monitor and report on human rights issues. The church also reaches out to women through a number of critical programs implemented by the Centre for Women’s Training and Development (P3W). These programs are an essential part of the church’s ministry.
The rights and the dignity of Papua’s women must be upheld. Stories have to be told and those responsible for the crimes must be accountable. This is a Gospel imperative and it stands at the heart of what Jesus calls us to do.  
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