Thursday, 6 February 2014

Dear Julie Bishop.

G'day Julie, from a fellow Aussie. You've just visited my adopted home town of Lae. What did you think? I'm guessing you thought it was either an exciting 'frontier" kinda place, or a complete shit hole. That's ok, I won't judge you for either of those views. We who live here often feel like that. Sometimes both of those points of view simultaneously.

Here's the thing. I don't think you have the SLIGHTEST idea about Lae. And Imma pretty sure your minders didn't REALLY clue you in as to what you were getting into up here. Apparently you were up here to (amongst other things) meet with Women's Groups. Noice. Supportive.. all part of the 'sisters under the skin' thing,, yes?

Well, here's the reality of your PNG sisters.

2 of them were pack-raped today. Pack raped by looters who were drunk on stolen SP, from the remains of the fire at Pelgen's. Albeit it, the women were actually part of the looting process, I'll give you that. Probably (although not certainly) come out of the settlements you were driven through so quickly on your way from the airport.

And they were probably looting for food. Cans of Ox and Palm, maybe a bag of water-damaged rice.

They were looting, almost certainly, because they were poor and homeless and probably had a couple of mouths to feed.

That pretty much describes most women who live in Lae.

How do I know this? My husband is the warehouse manager of one of the buildings burnt down in the fire, and he spent today watching this unfold. Yes. He saw the women being raped. He also saw one of them who tried to go to a G4S guard for help being pelted with burning cans of corned beef and being called a "lying slut".

Did you bother to research attitudes and violence against women before you bought your privileged white colonial arse up here?

And while you swanned through the market, probably shielded from most of the women that sell the remnants of their subsistence-garden produce there, women who live here and try to survive here EVERY FUCKING DAY were being raped.

They closed the market after you left. Did you know that?

Closed it because the looters from the Pelgen's fire were running amok only a block or two away.

I'm sure you took a photo opportunity or two, to have your pic taken with some suitably "appropriate local women". Maybe with a cute smoked fruitbat or two.

I can hear your cultural cringing from here.

Did your minders tell you any of this?

Did you realise that you were walking into a very VERY sticky situation, and that your presence alone made it worse?

Did it dawn on you at all, that the police used to protect you while you sashayed, all White Boss Mari, fucking Memsahib-like, could have been used to diffuse an incredibly tense and difficult situation only a few hundred meters from where, no doubt, you were more worried about getting buai-spit on your heels than the plight of the women who live here in Lae?

Can you even begin to understand that those police making the nasty, dirty roads of Lae safe for you, so you could go to the Yacht Club for lunch, had been taken off a powder-keg of poverty and internecine issues that you cannot even begin to understand?

So maybe the police diverted to your entourage so you can parade around Lae might not have made a jot of difference? Here's what I DO know. If you hadn't been in town, or you minders had had the fucking SMARTS to tell you about the ticking bomb that was Pelgens, then I GUARANTEE "sista", they would have been down at the fire site.

You should have, out of empathy (did I just use that word in regard to Ms Bishop?), have cancelled your appointments today and insisted that the police assigned to you be put at the disposal of the women of Lae.

I can hear the sirens. You're just leaving the Yoti right now. I hope every woman in Lae.. well the ones that aren't receiving treatment for pack rape anyway, line Aircorps road and give you our own version of the Death Stare.

What a despicable human being you are.