Life News

Women NOT Witches: The Fight against Sorcery Killings

By Hope Imaka – EMTV Online


It is said that the common belief in Papua New Guinea is that death, no matter how weak and frail a person may be, does not take place without a single person within the extended circle of the deceased family saying “em ino dai nating” (they did not die for nothing.)

Its these accusations of witchcraft that are prompting a series of what can only be described as brutal murders in Papua New Guinea. The victims are usually women, beaten to death with the approval of their neighbours.

In the eyes of many, if it isn’t a killing, there must be a reason for the death to come about. Even a standard procedural autopsy of the deceased explaining the death in legal death certificates is not widely accepted. Someone is responsible and they must pay.

Women are continuously tortured; those who are pregnant are no exception. Cathy Lem from Hewa, was 8 months pregnant when she was accused, stripped naked, and tortured, breaking her baby’s amniotic sac, and as a result she lost her baby.

Women are targeted because they are often vulnerable members in the community; the death of your own husband can be a death wish in itself for you.

The Late Leniata Kepari’s death sparked much uproar both nationally and internationally. UN statistics suggest that these killings occur about once a week and they continue to rise.

Police Commissioner, Tom Kulunga, suggested courts be established to deal with sorcery allegations, as an alternative to villagers dispensing justice.

How many more of our women have to go through this before societies practicing such gruesome acts, come to realise the wrong that they have done?

Though Christianity is widely believed and practiced throughout the country, sorcery still persists. 

One of the biggest developmental challenges is mindset changes, attitudinal changes. In an interview with Journeyman Pictures, Dame Carol Kidu said, “We want to bring the people forward without losing the best of the past.”

So far, awareness has been carried out to educate the population against sorcery killings.

The Seeds Theatre Group is one’such organisation that seeks to educate the illiterate population through performing acts.

The abolishment of the Sorcery Act 1971 by the government of PNG has the support of many national and international organisations, because under the act, any person practicing sorcery must be punished. Repealing the act will diminish the rising sorcery related killings.

We must protect our women and children from such gruesome crimes. Spread the word, educate the nation, and bring forth our country into a brighter future.

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