WRITTEN BY: Ashly Bloxon
PAPUA NEW GUINEA.— Security personnel employed at a gold mine have been implicated in several gang rapes and other violent abuses against women in Porgera Valley in Papua New Guinea.
The mine is owned by the world’s largest gold producer, Barrick Gold, a Canadian company.
Human Rights Watch has released a report, “Gold’s Costly Dividend: Human Rights Impacts of Papua New Guinea’s Porgero Gold Mine” that identifies the failure of Barrick Gold in recognizing the potential risk of abuses and their lack of response to allegations of abuse.
“We interviewed women who described brutal gang rapes by security guards at Barrick’s mine,” said Chris Albin-Lackey, senior business and human rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The company should have acted long before Human Rights Watch conducted its research and prompted them into action”.
Barrick enlists a private security force of nearly 450 personnel at Porgera, the mine is often plagued by raids from illegal miners. Hundreds of civilians scour the waste dumps daily in hopes of finding gold, this is illegal but fairly non-violent.
In several instances, however, security personnel have been accused of the violent rape and abuse of women civilians. The women were raped after being captured by security personnel on the waste dumps. The women were told either they could go to prison or submit to rape and be released.
A woman named Mary, one of the rape victims said, “They asked me,’Do you want to go to jail or go home?’ I said I wanted to go home. They said, ‘Then you will have to pay a big fine’. And then they raped me.”
Mary claimed the men repeatedly punched and kicked her while they raped her, afterwards they left her badly injured, lying on the rocks.
One woman described being gang raped by six security personnel, she told of how one of her assailants kicked her in the face and shattered eleven of her teeth.
None of the women reported the rapes to authorities. The women claim their assailants told them they would be arrested if they attempted to report the incidence to the authorities.
Barrick has since initiated an internal investigation and has taken steps to strengthen oversight and accountability for the security force at Porgera.
In January 2011, police arrested three Porgera Joint Venture employees, two were charged with rape and the third with violent abuse.