Papua New Guinea - Social development

A social security system, called the National Provident Fund, was formed in 1981 and covers persons employed by firms with 25 or more workers, providing old age, disability, and survivor benefits. Businesses involving cocoa, copra, palm oil, rubber, and tea are exempt, and there is a separate program for public employees. The system is financed by 5% contribution of earnings from employees, and 7% of payroll from employers. Retirement is set at age 55, or at any age with 15 years of contributions. Benefits are provided as a lump sum, and include total contributions plus interest. Workers' compensation is provided by employers through direct provision of benefits or insurance premiums. Medical services, where available, are provided free or at a nominal cost. Rural communities traditionally assume communal obligations to those in need.

Despite a constitution guaranteeing them equal rights, women remain second-class citizens due to traditional patterns of discrimination. Village courts tend to enforce these patterns, and intertribal warfare often involves attacks on women. Polygymy is common, and the tradition of paying a bride-price persists. Violence against women is widespread, and few victims press charges. Much of the violence is committed by women against another of their husband's wives. The government is working to improve the status of women, and has instituted an Office of Women's Affairs.

In 1999, human rights violations included excessive use of police force, poor prison conditions, and limits on freedom of assembly.

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