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The greatest fear of any loving parent

When we were leaving City Mission Haus Ruth – a refuge in Port Moresby where up to 30 women and children live whilst they await protective police action – Rose came up to me and said she was really disappointed because her story was important and she wanted to tell it. So we arranged that we would come back in a few days.

When we came back, Rose and I talked about who would see her video. I told her it is possible that everyone in Papua New Guinea and Australia may see it. To this she replied: “Good, that`s what I want.” I could tell that she had spent a lot of time thinking through the purpose of telling her story.

Rose then told her story to the camera. She told of how her husband attacked her with a knife €“ how she ran for her life, too fearful to return home for two nights. Because she escaped under such terrifying circumstances, she had left her three-month-old baby at home. On returning, she found her baby girl had been assaulted. The horror on her face still haunts me. I know as a loving parent that there is no greater fear than someone hurting your baby.

We took a break from filming; I think we were all grieving quietly and collectively. We were all shaking from the enormity of Rose putting it into words and saying it out loud. She was incredible.

Rose and I then sat together outside and just talked. She told me how everyone she knew had told her that it was best to stay with this man because otherwise he would kill her and maybe other members of her family. But Rose refused. She said to me: “He can kill me but he is not hurting my baby again.” Rose and I talked about the power of love, how it is stronger than the most violent threat.

Rose is a devoted mother and completely besotted by her little baby girl. We also talked about the first six months of getting to know your baby, how we both marvelled at having given birth to such perfect little beings. I think of Rose often.

As we left, Rose said to me that she was so relieved to have told her story, for others to hear and act upon. She said that being believed and being heard has given her the strength to continue to fight for justice. I promised to keep telling her story.

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