Sorcery in PNG ' spreading like wildfire '- police
: Repeated acts of brutal violence in Papua New Guinea's highlands provinces are being put down to the spreading of superstitious beliefs.
Repeated acts of brutal violence in Papua New Guinea's highlands provinces are being put down to the spreading of superstitious beliefs.
Sorcery beliefs, and often the abuse of those beliefs, have long been the justification used for the killings in remote areas, but police now say it is spreading to other areas.
On Monday, a mother was hacked to death with an axe in Enga province, and police are trying to raise funds to charter a plane so they can investigate.
Alex Perrottet has more.
Misila, a mother of four, was accused in January, along with two other women, of causing a measles epidemic. The Lutheran missionary Anton Lutz, and police, visited the village to discourage the practice of accusing women of harbouring sanguma, or evil spirits. Anton Lutz says many people changed their ways, but not all.
ANTON LUTZ: This woman, she's been accused over years of causing children to die of measles, and causing old men to die of pneumonia and causing people to die of malaria and they've been blaming her for this for a long time and so she's been trying to survive and raise her children and so on but on Monday they walked up the hill and didn't give her any chance to explain herself and just killed her.
Anton Lutz says one of the other women was caught and imprisoned in a house, but she managed to escape and is now running for her life. Women in remote villages like Fiyawena and Wanakipa live in constant fear of being accused of sorcery. According to local custom, the sanguma only reside in the women and some young children. The Provincial Police Commander for Enga, George Kakas, says it's spreading quickly.
GEORGE KAKAS: The practice of witchcraft and sorcery is slowly coming out of the province now, it's spreading now, it's spreading like wildfire into places where there was never any practice of sorcery. Just the movement of people, moving around and starting to believe what other people believe.
George Kakas says he has received an official complaint and is now writing to local MPs to ask for money to fly a plane to Fiyawena to investigate. It costs almost $1500 US dollars to charter the plane. It's a two-hour flight from Wabag town and then a two-hour walk. A volunteer worker with victims, Mary Kini, says lack of access remains a major barrier to stopping attackers. She too is a survivor, after witnessing as a child her stepfather being hacked to death. Ms Kini says her job is also to repatriate the women, as it's not safe to go back to their own village.
MARY KINI: So we help this group of women to get on with their livelihoods, like we re-patriate them to other provinces and they never go back to their original residence. We re-patriate them to other locations, wherever they feel free to stay.
After Monday's incident, the opposition leader, Don Polye, who is from the province, demanded the Government bring in tougher penalties. But the police say they simply need more resources. The sounds of an approaching plane is a cue for perpetrators to escape. Meanwhile, the vulnerable in the most remote areas constantly live in fear that they will be accused next.
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