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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 19, 2001 - Papua New Guinea Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Children who witness wives being assaulted by their husbands have been identified as belonging to a new category of child abuse in Papua New Guinea, a study on family violence said.

The study said that children who witness spouse abuse are likely to later engage in more risky sexual behavior due to insecure feelings.

It also said that there is an urgent need for more funding for research on domestic violence, sexual violence and child abuse.

Dr. Christine Bradley, a consultant with the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council (CIMC), said children who witness female assaults see one of the most common forms of violence in the country.

The report studied families in Port Moresby/NCD, Lae, Rabaul, Goroka and Wewak for five weeks.

Dr. Bradley said that other common forms of sexual violence found in the study are rape and sexual assault of women and girls in a family environment.

These crimes were committed by husbands, fathers, stepfathers and other male relatives against wives, female children and babysitters.

Other forms of violence include "opportunity" rape (rape associated with tribal fighting), sexual abuse of boys, sexual exploitation of children in urban areas, physical and verbal child abuse, assaults between women associated with polygamy and adultery, and attacks on women accused of witchcraft.

"Children suffer long-term effects because of insecurity and their sexual safety depends entirely on their mothers," Dr. Bradley said.

"This is something all families have to seriously consider in order for their children not to be affected by these effects.

"On the data, we don’t know as yet what the trends are because we still have not done the research to compare with the ones in the late 80s or early 90s.

"There are two studies currently under way -- and there is a very big problem that exists -- and they are large I will say because they are very expensive to conduct," she said.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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