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Papua New Guinea establishes its first hotline to support survivors of gender-based violence

December 16, 2015

Survivors of gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea are now getting critical help through the launch of the country’s first national hotline, which offers crisis support to survivors of family and sexual violence. The Family Sexual Violence Action Committee created the hotline with support from FHI 360, Child Fund Australia and the U.S. Agency for International Development. 

Globally, almost one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner. While no national-level prevalence data on gender-based violence exists in Papua New Guinea, a United Nations multicountry study found that 80 percent of men reported ever having perpetrated physical or sexual intimate-partner violence on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville.

The hotline to address gender-based violence, called “Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain,” is staffed by seven professional counselors who are fluent in each of Papua New Guinea’s three main languages. The hotline operated eight hours a day, five days a week during its first two months. As of October 2015, the hotline became available twelve hours a day, seven days a week. 

Calls made to the hotline by Digicel network subscribers are toll free. Charges apply for Bemobile and Telikom PNG subscribers, but talks are underway to eliminate these fees.

In his remarks at the launch of the hotline on August 15, 2015, Walter North, the U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, said, “I encourage people to use [the hotline] as we work to eliminate the scourge of such violence.” He also mentioned the benefit of having the hotline open to men, who are usually the perpetrators of domestic violence but often also need help. A 2011 study conducted by FHI 360 in Port Moresby found that 58 percent of men who have sex with men were sexually abused in the previous year.

The hotline is also open to people at risk for HIV, which fills an important gap in services for this population.

Photo credit: Rocky Roe Photographics