Raskols

(Before I start this section I want to emphasize that the majority of people in PNG are good people.  I am always thankful I teach, I get to see the best of the best :-))

You can’t live in PNG without knowing the victims of a variety of criminal attacks.  This takes it toll on even the most hardened Ex-pat.  I don’t think I can even accurately list all my friends and acquaintances who’ve had ‘incidents’ in the past three years.  These range from in-home robberies / attacks, to hold-ups, knifings and murder of students.

The perpetrators are termed ‘raskols’ (rascals)- while this term might sound ‘innocent’ it covers all level of criminals.  Crime is often performed by gangs and is often done as payback.  (Gang/pack rape is not uncommon).  Crime is rarely adequately addressed in courts, some gets handled ‘behind the scenes’…

Local advice focuses on these strategies:

  • Keep doors locked ALL the time (house and car)
  • Avoid certain roads, i.e 6-mile thru 12-mile… (these change so ask around, and in reality isn’t always possible)
  • Always carry a cell phone (charged and with credits), drive with it in reach of yourself.
  • Avoid driving by yourself at night
  • Keep space between you and the car in front so you can make quick re-routing decisions.
  • Pay attention when you are driving and look out for suspicious activity
  • Drive in convoys with people you know if driving outside of Lae (if possible)
  • Pay attention to warnings (Lae Chamber of Commerce sends out regular messages)
  • Never go into land/village you don’t know without someone from that area!  Most land is owned by a village and un-invited entry can be viewed as a threat.

This is not a fail-safe list, trust your instincts and listen to local knowledge on the subject.  I often drove at night, by myself, against advice and my better judgement…all I can say on that is it was a bit like playing Russian Roulette, not fun, nerve racking, and not the smartest thing I’ve done…  However, I had to do what made it a livable place for me and sometimes my need for independence won out.

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