PORT MORESBY – A U.S. academic says she was gang-raped by an armed mob in Papua New Guinea and wants to publicize her ordeal to raise awareness about rampant violence against women in the desperately poor Pacific country.
The attack comes barely a week after an Australian was killed and his friend sexually assaulted by a group of men.
There has also been a savage spate of sorcery-related crimes that have sparked condemnation from the United Nations and undermined Papua New Guinea’s standing as a destination for tourism and investment.
In the latest case, the white academic said that she was attacked Friday while conducting research on birds and the impact of climate change in a remote forest on Karkar Island in Madang Province.
Police in Port Moresby on Sunday confirmed the attack.
“We have taken statements but no arrests have been made yet,” a spokesman said. “This is a very serious incident.”
The 32-year-old was walking along a bush track with her husband and a guide when nine men armed with rifles and knives ambushed them, stripping the husband and guide naked and tying them up, she said.
“This story should not come out because I am white,” said the woman, who was on her fifth visit to the country since 2010.
“It should come out in hopes that it empowers Papua New Guinean women to stand up and say no more violence against women in this country.
“I hope my story can make a change.”