PNG mothers use infanticide to end long-running war

Sydney Morning Herald
2 December, 2008

PORT MORESBY: Frustrated women in Papua New Guinea's Highland region are killing their male babies to end a tribal fight that has warred for more than 20 years.

Two women from the Eastern Highlands told PNG's National newspaper of the slaughter during a three-day peace and reconciliation course in the region's capital, Goroka.

Rona Luke and Kipiyona Belas, each from two warring tribes, said the male infanticide reduces the cyclical payback violence infamous in Highlands tribal fights.

If women stopped producing males their tribe's stock would go down and this would force the men to end their fight, they said, choking back tears.

"All the women folk agreed to have all babies born killed because they have had enough of men engaging in tribal conflicts and bringing misery to them," Ms Luke said.

The women could not give a figure on how many male babies had been killed in the cull.

Ms Belas said getting food was hard as husbands kept fighting and mothers and children were left to fend for themselves.

The Salvation Army is working with various tribes to bring peace to the warring groups. One particular fight continues after starting in 1986 over sorcery claims.

Thieves in PNG are stealing official Australian war memorial plaques and World War II memorabilia and selling them to scrap metal dealers.

A tour operator at Wau, in Morobe Province on PNG's north-west coast, is working to restore one memorial after friends stumbled across a plaque for sale in a scrap metal yard.

Tim Vincent said thieves had stolen numerous memorial plaques from around Wau and historic sites in the nearby area.

"These have included not only the Wau memorial, but also family graves and other historic markers," he said.

The Australian high commissioner, Chris Moraitis, said the thefts were a cause for concern. "These memorials are very meaningful to the people of our two countries as they mark past events of extraordinary significance to both Australia and PNG," he said.

The Wau memorial commemorates those who fought against the Japanese in 1943.


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