A Case Study on Customs and Traditions revealed that using provisions of the Village Court Act and the Underlying Law Act, communities can amend customs to protect themselves and especially vulnerable women and children.
This was revealed yesterday by an internationally recognized Lawyer and Specialist Consultant Genevieve Howse, a guest speaker at the Underlying Law Conference hosted by the Constitutional Law Reform Commission.
Genevieve Howse and her team carried out a special case study on customs and traditional practices in Manus Province.
The research is an attempt to put customs into law.
The purpose of the project titled Custom Women - Village Courts Burukim Bush project was an attempt to reduce discrimination among the vulnerable, especially women and children.
The research in Manus revealed that the people wanted certain customs to be amended to suit today’s context. This included Bride Price where the people said the shift from traditional payment to modern cash and store goods is costly for them.
“All villages brought up one particular custom, and that was ‘Bride Price’. Everyone nominated that Bride Price as an area where they would like to change, which certainly from our point of view was extremely helpful because it gave us a very clear starting point,” said Genevieve.
Another traditional practice they wanted to change was to reduce the mourning periods due to the same reasons.
The research proved that communities can identify customs which are not working for them and amend them for the better.
The agreed changes can be made law through a declaration of customs in the Village Courts. Furthermore, declarations of customary laws can be made by Local Level governments and Provincial Governments by an Enabling Law.
The research team has a draft in place on the Enabling Law for Manus Province. They will visit the site soon to finalise the Provincial Enabling Law on Manus Customary Law Empowerment Law 2013.
Caption: Internationally recognized Lawyer and Specialist Consultant Genevieve Howse, a guest speaker at the Underlying Law Conference hosted by the Constitutional Law Reform Commission.