A twenty year old woman by the name of Kepari Leniata was reportedly tortured with a branding iron, tied up, splashed with fuel and set alight on a pile of rubbish topped with tires in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Her crime? She had used her powers as a sorceress to kill a local 6 old boy.
At the time, police were unable to intervene as onlookers far outnumbered police who had come. A responding fire truck was also chased away reported local outlets. No word why police did not choose to use force to intervene or if implicitly their lack of force was their way of condoning events?
The killing came after the woman admitted to killing the boy through sorcery, this despite the notion that the boy may have died of natural unrelated consequences which locals were adamant not to accept.
Reports the UK’s telegraph: There is a widespread belief in sorcery in the poverty-stricken Pacific nation where many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune, illness, accidents or death.
In 1971, the country introduced a Sorcery Act to criminalise the practice. But PNG’s law reform commission recently proposed to repeal it after a rise in attacks on people thought to practise black magic.
Local bishop David Piso said many innocent people had been killed.
“Sorcery and sorcery-related killings are growing and the government needs to come up with a law to stop such practice,” Piso told The National.
At present authorities are treating the woman’s death as murder and preparing charges against murder.
The death comes as indigenous regions resist in accepting western mores of life and culture as well the negation of female rights, which in some way may explain why the girl herself agreed that she too must have been a sorceress…
The country’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has sworn to bring the killers to justice, as he addressed the matter in a statement today.
‘No one commits such a despicable act in the society that all of us, including Kepari, belong to,’ he said.
‘Barbaric killings connected with alleged sorcery. Violence against women because of this belief that sorcery kills. These are becoming all too common in certain parts of the country.
‘It is reprehensible that women, the old and the weak in our society should be targeted for alleged sorcery or wrongs that they actually have nothing to do with.’
The U.S. embassy on the Papua New Guinea issued a statement condemning the “’brutal murder’ calling it evidence of ‘pervasive gender-based violence.’
’We add our voice to those of Papua New Guinean religious and civil society leaders who have spoken out against the brutality inflicted upon Ms Leniata.’
Then there was this rueful comment on the web that caught my attention as well:
There was a time we did the same in this country.- TH, UK, 7/2/2013 12:33…YES, BUT thank goodness we moved out of the dark ages and into civilisation, what you say almost condones their actions.. remember we are in 2013.
And this comment too that really made me wonder as well:
Witchcraft probably used as an excuse to murder this girl by someone who didnt like her. Either a woman was jealous or a man was spurned by her. The people who could do this, something so barbaric and intentionally cruel, would not be helped by education. These people are beyond violent. They deserve whatever hell can come up with. This can not be blamed on poverty or lack of education, that would insult every single person living in poverty who lack an education. This is about twisted minds, violence, misogyny and adherence to a barbaric way of life. This is on them, not any one else’s fault.