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Witch Hunts

Witch Hunts

Report on the shocking death of a young woman accused of being a Witch.

Belief in Witchcraft in Papua New Guinea generally targets Women, who are blamed when the mining boom goes dry. Brandings and mutilations are common in retaliation to accusations of  sorcery. Dr Richard Eves and Dr Miranda Forsyth organised the “Sorcery and Witchcraft-Related Killings in Melanesia: Culture, Law and Human Rights Perspectives” conference at the Australian National University, June 5-7, 2013.

“In February this year, people around the world were deeply shocked when a young Papua New Guinean woman, accused of being a witch and causing the death of a six-year-old child, was stripped naked, brutally tortured, doused with petrol and set on fire in front of hundreds of assenting onlookers.”

“Both Amnesty International and the United Nations rebuked the government of Papua New Guinea for its failure to protect its citizens or to uphold the international human rights conventions to which the country is a signatory. The United Nations Country Team in Papua New Guinea urged ‘the Government to take urgent action to end these harmful phenomena and to conduct fair and thorough investigations to arrest and prosecute perpetrators through the Criminal Code, and in accordance with its international obligations’. Many Papua New Guinean citizens expressed their deep-felt shame that this could occur in their country, and the prime minister Peter O’Neill condemned the killing as ‘barbaric and inhuman’.”

Beheadings in PNG.

In early April Helen Rumbali, a women’s rights advocate and former school teacher, was beheaded in front of her community in Papua New Guinea after three days of unspeakable torture. Police stood by and watched, reporting that they were unable to intervene to stop the angry mob. 


The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea has promised to repeal the Sorcery Act.

Here’s something practical we can all do about the crime of Witch Hunts.

We need your help right now to save these women and get authorities in PNG to take real action against sorcery related violence – the lives of these women and others like them depend on it. See this link:  Amnesty International.

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