Papua-Neuguinea: Hilan Los

Lady of patience for PNG women . . . At home, at work, and in politics, Oh Lady Los, thank you for fighting For our rights in Papua New Guinea." Eda Walong (2002)

— Hilan Los

Hilan Los’ work on individual and community rights has resulted in general awareness raising on human rights in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a pool of legal rights trainers being made available in some provinces, some parts of PNG family law being changed, sex workers becoming more aware of their legal and human rights after being abused by clients and law enforcement authorities, and Safe Houses for victims of violence being set up.

"Sometimes I think I am acting like a police detective in my line of work for Individual and Community Rights Advocacy Forum (ICRAF). It is like I am on call all the time. It is a risky job. I get verbal abuse but I have not been physically attacked yet. We try hard not to endanger the lives of our clients and take a low profile approach to our work so that husbands and perpetrators of violence do not connect us directly with the victims of abuse, mostly women and children who seek refuge in our Refuge Center or our unpublicized Safe House. A young girl sought refuge with us because her relatives in a squatter settlement were fighting over her custody. They told me to mind my own business but I told them the girl was under 18, which meant there were government regulations protecting her rights as a person. Government Welfare people then solved this matter of custody and adoption. A husband placed his wife under house arrest after beating her to near death. We had a phone call from a neighbor. We were very cautious and organized to pick her up with the neighbor’s help. We cared for her at the Safe House while she sought medical attention and counseling. The longest client we had in the Safe House was a policeman’s wife who stayed for one whole year. There are women out there who are in pain and living in misery. Giving my extra time to assist them helps in a small way and ICRAF as an organization having a mandate to assist is a tool to providing them that needed and important service."

Individual and Community Rights Advocacy Forum (ICRAF) Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee People Against Child Exploitation (PACE)