CASTLES OF THE 21ST CENTURY

It’s Sunday and so I have some time to post some more pictures of my experiences here in Papua New Guinea.

Security and safety are constantly on people’s minds in Port Moresby, and for good reason. Crime is everywhere and people don’t count on the police to prevent it here. While Papuans are generally very gentle people, this is a society that is incredibly violent. Fully 70% of women will be victims of violence in their lifetime – usually from a family member. There are campaigns underway here to increase awareness and to try to eliminate violence against women, but clearly there is a lot of work still to be done. No wonder people take precautions here.

Of course barbaric behaviour persists to some extent in every society. Apparently, we as a species are not yet evolved enough to overcome our violent tendencies. When an idea in one person’s head happens to differ from the idea in another person’s head, violence so often ensues.

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In Australia and Canada the police do take measures to prevent crime, but all too often they are just there to pick up the pieces afterwards and to try to catch the culprits. In Papua New Guinea, people take their own measures to prevent crime. For example, if one wants to avoid being the victim of a home invasion, one is well-served to build a big wall around one’s house.

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As I walk around the streets of Port Moresby I see hundreds of these homes with walls of various sizes protecting them – almost like castle walls.

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It’s odd to think that we would still need castle walls in the 21st century, but as I write this I am sitting in my room in a house that is protected by such walls (and guards and their guard dogs).

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The fact is that there is savagery here and a very real risk that one could be on the receiving end of it. So the traditional methods of keeping safe are employed. It’s like stepping back in time.

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I have no idea what happened to this gate but I’ll bet there’s a good story behind it:

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The razor wire at this place has been allowed to rust. If you’re thinking of breaking in, make sure that your tetanus shots are up to date.

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There is also the school of thought that says that one should avoid being a victim by fighting back. Many people here carry guns in their cars in case of carjacking. I’ve seen a number of vehicles around town that had a sticker on the back window that reads “Baby Glock on Board”.

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I caught a taxi the other day that had that sticker on it. I asked the driver about it and he explained that indeed there is a gun in the car and that he would use it if there were a need. I’m not sure if that made me feel safer or not.

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On one vehicle that I saw recently, it says “Fight Crime – Shoot Back”. I’m sure that the folks at the National Rifle Association would approve.

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Many of the buildings around town have guards even during the day. There is a security firm here that dresses its staff in orange camouflage uniforms. They would be almost impossible to spot in a ‘Tang’ factory.

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Castle walls aren’t the only thing giving this town a medieval feel. Most people aren’t allowed to have guns, so they make do with whatever form of protection they can find. I came across a guard at my gym the other day who carries a bow and arrow.

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I guess I do feel safer knowing that if something goes down, I have Robin Hood on my side.

It leaves me feeling extremely grateful for the ordered and (mostly) law-abiding community that I call home. The fact that anyone can go out alone at night and usually be quite safe doing so in Canada or Australia should never be taken for granted.

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5 responses to “CASTLES OF THE 21ST CENTURY

  1. Chris Andy T here in Australia Passed this into Anna Zahn. Sounds scary so take care on your adventure

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