Eriko's story

Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea: Eriko Fuferefa is director of KUSWA and a survivor of gender-based violence. Photo: Patrick Moran/OxfamAUS.

The strength of survivors

Violence against women and girls is alarmingly common in Papua New Guinea. But Oxfam is working with trailblazers like Eriko Fuferefa to empower women, change harmful social beliefs and behaviours, and build a safer future.
Eriko survived many years of unrelenting intimate-partner violence. “It was a nightmare,” she says.

“I couldn’t sleep at night. I went to sleep but my eyes are still open thinking about what I can do for my children. I’ve gone through so much violence and my husband nearly killed me too.”

After years of abuse, Eriko felt compelled to take a stand. Together with seven other survivors, she formed Kafe Urban Settlers Women’s Association (KUSWA) in 2003.

“Every woman faces this violence all the time, but no-one comes out and speaks about women’s rights. They don’t know where to access services, how to access services, go through the court system or access the hospital.

“But when KUSWA came out, we go out to the communities to advocate and educate the women … we try to educate them to access services.”

Now, with assistance from Oxfam, Eriko and the team at KUSWA are saving lives. “When this funding came, it helped us to prevent all this violence,” she explains.

“The situation is going down, not much cases are reported now. But before, [when] we didn’t get this funding from Oxfam, it was a bushfire, so many women were killed,” says Eriko.

“We empower the women. We give them advice — we explain, if you don’t go to the court and bring your husband to the court, you will face all this problem again.”

“So now, the men try to change some of their behaviour because they are afraid that women are going to go and report.”

“My whole idea is to protect life,” Eriko says. “I don’t want women to be killed. I want everyone to be safe.”

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