Two women were tortured and killed in Papua New Guinea a few days ago after an angry mob decided to accuse them of witchcraft.
Police couldn’t save these women and were forced to give them over to the mob after they were attacked and driven from their station.
The women were then taken to Lopele village on Bougainville and were accused of murdering a former village teacher through sorcery and sentenced by the mob. They were then tortured with knives and axes. Police then tried to negotiate and force the release of these women but were too late. They were outnumbered and were easily held at bay while the mob beheaded the two women.
Violence against women in Papua New Guinea is considered near endemic and fears over witchcraft abound in a culture where there are statutes against sorcery.
Just this March, Six women and a man were grabbed during an Easter Witch-hunt in the Southern Highlands. They were stripped, tied up and tortured with hot iron rods around the genitals. The man managed to escape and survive. The women’s fate is unknown. It is assumed they did not survive and so far the murderers have not been prosecuted.
In February, a 20 year old woman was burned to death after being doused in petrol by the family of a dead boy while claiming she was the witch who killed him.
In July last year, 29 people were arrested as part of a “gang of witch hunters” who not only killed women but took part in traditional cannibalism.
This is a major problem in a country where there is a genuine bonafide “Sorcery Act”. The mere existence of such an act is tacit implication that sorcery is a “real fucking thing” rather than magic tricks at best and fear of the unknown at worst. The government should work to remove this law from the books and reduce “sorcery” related violence by education while providing survivors of such violence with proper support and healthcare. In addition? Women’s rights need to start and education with regards to this horrible violence needs to take place.
At the moment though? Sorcery accusations seems to be a great way to attack someone who is disliked and get away with it.