ON JUNE 19, a freelance designer/illustrator from New Zealand and his partner were swimming in a river near the village of Nomad, in PNG’s remote Western Province.
A “tribesman,” who’d been tracking the couple for an hour + and was concealed in vegetation nearby, shot the man in the chest with two arrows and then sexually assaulted the woman. She fought him off and ran to the village for help.
The attacker is apparently a repeat offender, who has served time for rape in the past. He remains at large but authorities are confident they can find him and bring him to justice. Both victims are now in Cairns, Australia, where the man remains in the hospital in stable condition.
PNG isn’t the first place that comes to mind when I think of dicey travel safety. And definitely, incidents like this are a rarity.
But there are travel advisories in effect for the country, especially remote areas. According to the U.S. State Department, “Papua New Guinea has a high crime rate. Several U.S. citizen residents and visitors have been victims of a violent crime in recent years.”
Poverty is widespread in PNG — 85% of citizens rely on “semi-subsistence agriculture” — and like many developing nations it struggles with the realities of natural resource extraction by outside interests.