projects

9. Sorcery and Witchcraft

 I have always been dealing in one way or other with culture and the belief in spirits – whether benevolent or malevolent. However it appears that that accusing, torturing and killing witches has emerged as a major issue only recently in parts of PNG. As secretary for the Commission for Social Concerns for the Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, I am seeking to assist the Church develop an appropriate response. The photo on the right is of a woman who was accused of witchcraft and locked in a house for a long time. Some human rights defenders helped her escape and got her to hospital

Here is onother example from the many that I have encountered.  A young man died in hospital.  Hospital authorities were unable to determine the cause of his death.  During his funeral, while people were mourning and he had not yet been buried, word went around that the dead man had called by mobile phone and named two women saying that they had removed his heart and this had caused his death.  Men rounded up the two women and proceeded to torture them with heated iron rods and long knives, demanding to know where they had put his heart and telling them to put it back.  Obviously the women were not able to locate his heart or to put it back.  So they were brutally assaulted.  One woman died from her injuries.  The other, terribly burned, managed to escape She got to a hospital in anotherr province. She has recoveered, though with terrible physical and psychological scars and now the question is whether she can ever return to join her husband and family, and also how she can summons those who assaulted her and bring them to court (they are her relatives).

You can see the link to an article I have written on this topic - "Engendered Violence and Witch-killing in Simbu" in the 2012 section of the writings page on this website.