Pacific Media Watch

21 November 2017

PNG: PM O'Neill condemns sorcery torture, killings as 'unacceptable'

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PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill ... describes men behind the cruelty against women as "cowards". Image: PNG Facts

PORT MORESBY (The National/Pacific Media Watch): Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has voiced the nation’s outrage at the “unacceptable” torture and killings of women and girls accused of practising sorcery in the wake of another death. 

He referred to the men behind the torture and killing of women and girls as “cowards” whose actions were “pathetic and perverted”.

The outpouring of shock and outrage was sparked by the torture two weeks ago in Enga of the six-year-old daughter of Kepari Leniata, a woman stripped and burnt to death in public in Mt Hagen in 2013.

The perpetrators believed that sanguma (sorcery) was hereditary and passed from the mother to the daughter.

The girl, who remains unnamed, received burns and wounds all over her body from bush knives that were heated by fire, Loop PNG reports

The National reports the matter was not reported to police until last Wednesday, prompting a rescue operation by the PNG Tribal Foundation and Lutheran missionary Anton Lutz on Friday. 

“Let’s be clear. Sanguma beliefs are absolute rubbish,” O’Neill said.

Sanguma 'false belief'
“In the modern day, sanguma is not a real cultural practice.

“It is a false belief and involves the violent abuse and torture of women and girls by pathetic and perverted individuals.

“The men behind these murders are cowards who are looking for someone to blame because of their own failure in life. These violent acts are against our values as a nation and are completely unacceptable.

“In the case of the young girl who was recently attacked in Enga, we are grateful for the brave people who gave her first aid and took her to a safe location,” he said. 

O’Neill said community leaders who allowed the abuse to continue “are just as bad as the men who carry out the crimes”.

“As a Christian nation, these abuses are also an attack on our religion,” O’Neill said.

“That goes against all the teachings of the church.

Discuss issue call
“The Christian faith that we share teaches us to love one another and uphold the rights of the young and the weak.

“In churches around our country, I call on leaders to discuss this issue and how you would deal with this violence if it was tried in your communities.”

The prime minister said the government would continue to work with the churches, people and police “to end these false beliefs and protect the lives of all Papua New Guineans”.

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