03/11/2017
 

Prominent PNG journalist dies; sparks Pacific domestic violence debate

Rosalyn Albaniel Evara. Credit: Facebook

On October 14, Rosalyn Albaniel Evara, the business editor of PNG’s largest newspaper, Post Courier, was rushed to hospital but died shortly after. Initial reports indicated that the cause of death was a stroke. However, at her funeral in Port Moresby on October 23, Rosalyn’s aunt, Mary Albaniel, used the eulogy to highlight that her niece had been the victim of sustained domestic violence.

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The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Pacific Media Network (PMN) in expressing condolences following the death of respected Papua New Guinean journalist Rosalyn Albaniel Evara. The IFJ and PMN welcome news of an investigation into the circumstances of Rosalyn’s death and have called on Pacific media to take decisive action to change the culture of silence around the scourge of domestic violence that plagues the region.

On October 14, Rosalyn Albaniel Evara, the business editor of PNG’s largest newspaper, Post Courier, was rushed to hospital but died shortly after. Initial reports indicated that the cause of death was a stroke. However, at her funeral in Port Moresby on October 23, Rosalyn’s aunt, Mary Albaniel, used the eulogy to highlight that her niece had been the victim of sustained domestic violence. Photographs of bruises found by her family on her torso and neck as they prepared her body for the funeral were shown at the funeral and also shared with authorities.

Port Moresby governor, Powes Parkop, is understood to have ordered the woman’s burial be deferred for a postmortem and investigation.

Since the domestic violence allegations came to light, there has been widespread criticism of Rosalyn’s employer, Post Courier, and its handling of its staff member. Former editor, Alexander Rheeney accused the paper of failing its duty of care.

Deli Oso, president of the Media Association of the Solomon Islands (MASI) said: “MASI acknowledges the invaluable contributions of Ms Evara, and the blow of this to the PNG and wider Pacific media.”

IFJ’s New Zealand affiliate, E tū, also expressed its sympathy over her death: “Violence towards women is all too common in all our communities. And for journalism it is a particular issue. We cannot have true press freedom if journalists are subjected to violence, whether that is at work, on the street or at home.”

The PNG Media Workers Association (PNGMWA) condemns the abuse that Rosalyn Albaniel Evara had lived and which eventually claimed her life, and said that her employer, the Post Courier should also be blamed for knowing and doing nothing. The executive officer of PNGMWA Mr. Roderick Kanama said: “The newspaper,  like all other media, reported on news related to violence against women, even carried advertisements and for it to allow Roselyn's abuse to go unabated is deplorable of the company and its responsibilities to its employees.”

IFJ Affiliate, the New Caledonian Journalists Federation (FJC-NC) said it was deeply saddened by the death of Rosalyn. “We support her family and all PNG journalists. We also say ‘NO TO VIOLENCE’. We all have a role to play in defending the freedom of the press and, more generally, freedom of expression.’

In 2015, Losana McGowen, a well-known and respected Fijian journalist and women’s rights advocate was killed during a dispute with her partner. She died from a fatal head injury.

The Pacific Media Network met in Port Vila, Vanuatu, last week to discuss common issues impacting journalists in the region. Sexual harassment and gender-based violence against female media workers was highlighted as being an issue in need of critical campaigning and action by the newly-formed network. 

The IFJ said: “Violence against women remains an ongoing challenge for women across the world. For female journalists they often have to report on it, whilst also experiencing it in the office, the field and at home – be it sexual harassment by a colleague or superior, online abuse, domestic violence and, sadly in the case of Rosalyn Albaniel Evara, it has resulted in her death. We call on the PNG government, and the wider Pacific community to take a stand and demand an end to violence against women.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific

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