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Cressida Kuala

HRD, founder
Porgera Red Wara (River) Women’s Association

Cressida Kuala is a women’s rights defender and environmental activist. She is the CEO and founder of the Porgera Red Wara (River) Women’s Association, an organisation that works to denounce and document the problems faced by women impacted by the Porgera mine, and to prevent sexual violence against women and girls.

Cressida is an indigenous Ipili-Porgera Woman, and she lives in a small gold mining town in the Highlands Region of Porgera District in the Enga Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG). In 2011, while she was still working with the gold mining company, Barrick-PJV, Cressida founded the Porgera Red Wara (River) Women's Association and she started speaking out about issues such as environmental degradation, chemical waste, pollution, expropriation of land and the impact for the local community. For the past few years, Cressida has been doing field research at the Porgera Mine Dumping site, interviewing indigenous people who work as artisanal miners and assessing the impact of the mine operations on their lives. Because of her work, Cressida has been under constant threat, she has had to go into hiding, and once she was sexually and physically assaulted by mine employees, while she was on her way to the Mine Assay laboratory.

PNG Porgera mine

Human rights defenders in Papua New Guinea mainly work on land and environmental rights, women and children’s rights, gender based violence, especially against sorcery and witchcraft accusations and to end tribal warfare. Law enforcement officials have been implicated in corruption, extortion, rape and acts of violence. Police have used excessive force during arrest, interrogation, and pretrial detention. In the absence of rule of law in some regions, it is very hard for human rights defenders to advocate, protest or speak publicly of such abuses and some of them have been arrested and detained for speaking out.