Gender-Based Violence in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea: A Literature Review


by Gabby



Image: Provided by Sarah Garap

By: Gabriella Richardson 1*, Chiara Zardoni 1 , Mhairi-Louise Martin 1,2 and Sofia Treminio 1,3

1 United Nations Volunteering Program, Morobe Development Foundation, Lae 00411, Papua New Guinea; (G.R.); (C.Z.); (M.M.); (S.T.)

2 School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, United Kingdom

3 Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC V6T 1Z4, Canada

* Project Coordinator | Correspondence: /

Abstract: Some of the most alarming gender-based violence (GBV) statistics are found in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea (PNG). A literature review of GBV in the Highlands provinces (Enga, Chimbu, Hela, Jiwaka, the Southern, Western and Eastern Highlands provinces) is lacking. This paper will provide a comprehensive review of existing literature related to GBV in the Highlands region of PNG focusing on gender roles and norms, intimate partner violence, polygyny, bride price, tribal conflict, the introduction of Christianity, mining and existing local and international policy. The literature is analyzed using Merry’s “Concept of Culture and Human Rights” (2003) and correlations are drawn to the three gender dichotomies discussed in Yanagisako and Collier’s (1987) work: “Nature and Culture” (Ortner 1974), “Domestic and Public” (Rosaldo 1974) and “Reproduction and Production” (Harris and Young 1981). Our findings indicate there are several gaps in existing literature. A dynamic understanding of culture is best suited to understand factors contributing to GBV in the Highlands of PNG, contemporary cultural change has exacerbated GBV and existent gender dichotomies are often used as justification for control and violence. Such findings should be taken into account when addressing GBV in the Highlands of PNG.

Keywords: Gender based violence (GBV), Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Anthropology, Literature Review, Cultural change, Gender Dichotomies, Papua New Guinea Policy


The authors are grateful to the United Nations Online Volunteering Program ( The authors thank the following UNVs for their contributions to the literature review pertaining to GBV in the Highlands of PNG: Tan Zhong Chen – policy and economy research, Sydney Reis – policy and bride price research, Antonio García Cazorla–  gender norms and roles research, Natalia Nagree– policy and legal research, Emily Baty – tribal dynamics, GBV and alcohol and drug use, bride price research, Alicia Kelly – gender norms and roles research, Siyuang Wang – tribal dynamics, economy, polygyny and polygamy research, Alex Dupuis – statistics, tribal dynamics and polygyny and polygamy research, Claudia Colombo– gender norms and roles, bride price research, Melvis Bora – bride price research.

The authors would also like to acknowledge Lawrence Wuest, Willie Doaemo, Tanya Zeriga-Alone, Philip Gibbs, Ph.D., and Sarah Garap for reviewing and/or editing drafts of the paper.


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