Edited version for the Blog from an Entry of the 2017 Crocodile Prize Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Essays and Journalism Category.
Michael Geketa has left the Police Force to pursue other interests. He is an aspiring politician who has provided leadership in the Police Force as a Commander. Writing has been a big part of Michael’s life. He has contributed stories and poems to various literary pieces.
In recent times, the narratives of gender based violence are centred on the fixed discourse: Men are the perpetrators; women and children are the Victims. As a result, the society has organised itself in a way that persecutes perpetrators of violence but the finer points shows the prejudice men. All systems, structures, process and institutions together with the Justice fraternity sustain and promote the narratives around men folk being the cause.
Every spaces of the society are a witness to this phenomenon. In almost all corners of the world, this account is a main stay among ordinary citizens, social workers, development workers and the policy and law makers. The world and local media, both traditional and social media are a party to the conversations. Men are the perpetrators while women and children are the victims of the perpetrated violence.
In Papua New Guinea, provisions like the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009 and the Criminal Code Act are legislations that admonish the men folk. Certain United Nation Conventions and international Laws on women and children are also in part promoting the negative attitudes toward men.
Man’s moral character is two-fold and the world is yet to fully recognize. What the world considers as man’s negative aggression, it quickly condemns through legislative provisions and use of public media. Institutional and Policy framework to acknowledge man’s contribution in world’s affairs must be realized and exploited to illustrate a balance.
Naturally, men are not violent but they are as loving, caring and timid as women. This fact is exemplified by the creation story in the Christian Holy Bible. The Christian God created Eve, men’s first mother from the ribs of our first father, Adam. If the nature of women can be biblically verified, then they must inherit qualities inherent in men. Therefore, biologically the qualities of love, carefree, non-violent, kindness, thoughtfulness, genteel and more, are traits found in men.
There are many exceptional stories both in Papua New Guinea and abroad whereby indescribable acts of love and respect by men upon women remain untold.
One such simple gesture of the good traits found in men was illustrated on a fortnight Friday, 5th of June 2015 in the capital city of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby. It was around 7:30 am at Malaoro bus stop. Bus stops are usually a hike of activities. There are usually loud and noisy crowds of people and there are the dangerously manoeuvring buses. The bus stops are known as unsafe spots for women and girls in Papua New Guinea. A Public Motor Vehicle, a 25 Seater Toyota Coaster bus, in haste to pick up passengers halted abruptly and in the process created a gust of dust. I covered my eyes and mouth as I walked through the polluted air, pushing through the impatient and chaotic crowd to board. The bus sped towards the direction of the city’s General Hospital bus stop, onward to 4mile, Boroko.
I sat at the comfort of the back seat. Four others sat before me before the door. One of the passengers immediately adjacent to the bus crew looked like an accountant. As typical of professionals, he wore a tie, polished black trousers, and bore a clean moustache with trimmed hair. His neatly pressed long sleeved shirt had with a logo of a large accounting firm in the city.
At the hospital bus stop before the military barracks, an elderly man got off. One of the four teenagers who were standing at the door way on the trip from Malaoro sat on the seat that had just being vacated. A young mother attempted to board but waved the driver to go on without her when she saw the boys standing and the lack of vacant seats. The accountant gave a commanding shriek for the driver to immobilize the bus. The driver halted the bus whilst he vacated his seat and then directly motioned the woman and her child into the bus to take up his seat. The boys naturally gave way for the woman and her child to board the bus. Onwards to Boroko, the woman comfortably curdled her child whilst the accountant and the four boys stood at the doorway of the bus half hanging out.
The 4mile-Boroko bus stop is usually packed with people in the mornings and the afternoons. Typical of a fortnight weekend, genuine commuters, people watchers, opportunists, pickpockets and beggars all converged at the bus stop and pried their purposes.
In the afternoon, I boarded a 25 Seater Public Motor Vehicle bus back to Malaoro. From nowhere, three men who were intoxicated with alcohol made a suicidal hop, rushed into the bus and stood at the passenger door on the side of the bus as it was taking off. The drunks shouted pointless, aimless, and quite often harmful words into the air. The driver stopped at the bus stop near the military barracks, opposite Foodland at Tarauma Leisure Centre. Three passengers disembarked. The drunks moved to occupy the vacant seats. Just then, three working class women stepped into the bus but retreated on seeing that there were no seats available. Without discussions, silently and swiftly the drunks vacated their seats for the three women. The women gratefully took up the seats and sat comfortably whilst the three drunks sang merrily, clinging dangerously onto to the side of the bus through its open passenger door all the way to Malaoro. The women were impressed by the kind gesture of the drunks and proceeded to offer them money as a token of appreciation at the end of the ride.
‘Ol sista, noken wari. Mipela orait.’ (“My sisters, don’t worry. We’re okay.”). The drunks responded in pidgin, smiled and walked away.
At home, I recalled the two scenarios of that day. I considered myself blessed upon seeing the men folk demonstrating the real character of man. In the first scenario, I wondered why the accountant had cared less of his status as an accountant. He risked his own life standing at the side of the moving vehicle and also committing a traffic offence. The second scenario was even more mind-boggling. The drunks risked their own lives and committed a traffic offence. Both these cases pointed to the natural care for women. The cases illustrated selflessness on the part of the men and showed deep respect, kindness and consideration, thoughtfulness and love. These qualities were displayed with no effort and appeared to have inspired these gentlemen naturally. It was as if they were programmed to behave like that, even being under the influence of alcohol.
This forms the basis of this essay. Men are not as bad as the world continues to determine and promote. The good side of men is what the world should see more and have more discussions on. It requires more conversations, promotion and good legislative and policy framework to fully realize the potential of men. This world view can impact positively on the minority of men and other women who are perpetrators of violence on all other people.