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<p>Vlad Sokhin</p>

Vlad Sokhin

A women’s rights advocate shows a photo of Angela, naked, gashed and burned, surrounded by the torpid crowd.

It’s 2013, And They’re Burning ‘Witches’

Belief in black magic persists in Papua New Guinea, where communities are warping under the pressure of the mining boom’s unfulfilled expectations. Women are blamed, accused of sorcery and branded as witches — with horrific consequences.

They’re going to cook the sanguma mama!”

The shout went up from a posse of children as they raced past the health clinic in a valley deep in the Papua New Guinean highlands. Inside, Swiss-born nurse and nun Sister Gaudentia Meier — 40-something years and a world away from the ordered alps of her homeland — was getting on with her daily routine, patching the wounds and treating the sicknesses of an otherwise woefully neglected population. It was around lunchtime, she recalls.

Sister Gaudentia knew immediately the spectacle the excited children were rushing to see. They were on their way to a witch-burning. There are many names for dark magic in the 850 tongues of Papua New Guinea, sanguma resonating widely in these mountains. The 74-year-old sister hurriedly rounded up some of her staff, loaded them in a car and followed the crowd, with a strong foreboding of what she would find.

Two days earlier she had tried to rescue Angela (not her real name), an accused witch, when she was first seized by a gang of merciless inquisitors looking for someone to blame for the recent deaths of two young men. They had stripped their quarry naked, blindfolded her, berated her with accusations and slashed her with bush knives (machetes). The “dock” for her trial was a rusty length of corrugated roofing, upon which she was displayed trussed and helpless. Photographs taken by a witness on a mobile phone show that the packed, inert public gallery encircling her included several uniformed police.

In Papua New Guinea, the Pacific nation just a short boat ride from Australia’s far north, 80 per cent of the 7 million-plus population live in rural and remote communities. Many have little access to even basic health and education, surviving on what they eat or earn from their gardens. There are few roads out, but a burgeoning network of digital-phone towers and dirt-cheap handsets now connect them to the world — assuming they can plug into power and scrounge a few kina-worth of credit.

<p>Vlad Sokhin</p>

Vlad Sokhin

The beautiful landscape of PNG’s highlands belies the brutal reality of life in the region, where more than 90 per cent of women report suffering gender-based violence.

The resources-rich country is in the midst of a mining boom, but the wealth bypasses the vast majority. In their realities, some untouched by outside influence until only a couple of short-lived generations ago, enduring tradition widely resists the notion that natural causes, disease, accident or recklessness might be responsible for a death. Rather, bad magic is the certain culprit.

“When people die, especially men, people start asking ‘Who’s behind it?’, not ‘What’s behind it?’” says Dr Philip Gibbs, a longtime PNG resident, anthropologist, sorcery specialist and Catholic priest.

Last year, a two-year investigation by the country’s Constitutional and Law Reform Commission observed that the view that sorcery or witchcraft must be to blame for sickness or early death is commonly held across PNG.

Many educated, city-dwelling Papua New Guineans also espouse some belief in sorcery. But in the words of the editor of the national daily Post Courier, Alexander Rheeney, city and country-folk alike overwhelmingly “recoil in fear and disgust” at lynch-mobs pursuing payback, and at the kind of extremist cruelty that Sister Gaudentia was about to witness.

Angela’s accusers — young men from another town, high on potent highlands dope and “steam” (home-brewed hooch) — had come back for her. Sister Gaudentia suspected the same mob had tortured a young woman she nursed a few months earlier. She had dragged herself, “how … I don’t know”, says the nun, into the clinic, her genitals burned and fused beyond functional repair by the repeated intrusions of red-hot irons.

The concept of a serial-offending torture squad hunting down witches doesn’t fit the picture anthropologists have assembled of the customs that underwrite sorcery “pay-back” in parts of PNG. Attacks are, as a general rule, the spontaneous act of a grieving family, inspired often by vengeance, and sometimes by fear that evil magic will be exercised again. But experts also concede there are caveats to every rule in PNG. One of the most ethnically diverse landscapes in the world, PNG is endlessly confounding to outsiders, and even as modern explorers strive to pin down aspects of the old world, it changes before them.

<p>Vlad Sokhin</p>

Vlad Sokhin

Walne was accused of using sorcery to kill a young boy and hunted by her husband's family. Narrowly escaping public execution, she is currently in hiding.

As more reports of sorcery-related atrocities find their way into the PNG media, United Nations’ forums, and human rights investigations, there are concerns that the profile of this social terrorism is shifting. Ritual attacks on accused sorcerers — historically brutal in some parts, notoriously so in the punishing highlands — appear to have broken out of traditional boundaries, and now crop up in communities where they have no history.

Despite a lack of data and the suspicion that only a fraction of incidents are ever reported, the 2012 Law Reform Commission examination of sorcery-related attacks concluded that they have been rising since the 1980s. It estimated about 150 cases of violence and killings are occurring each year in just one volatile province, Simbu — wild, prime coffee country deep in the nation’s rugged spine. Figures vary enormously but volumes of published reports by UN agencies, Amnesty International, Oxfam and anthropologists provide unequivocal evidence that attacks on accused sorcerers and witches — sometimes men, but most commonly women — are frequent, ferocious and often fatal.

Australian National University anthropologist Dr Richard Eves is a PNG specialist who is convening a conference on the issue in Canberra in June. As he explains, the truism of anthropological literature is that the thrall of sorcery and witchcraft over a society declines with modernity, as occurred in Europe and North America. But right now in Melanesia, and particularly in PNG, this seems not to be the case.

Instead reports indicate tradition has in places morphed into something more malignant, sadistic and voyeuristic, stirred up by a potent brew of booze and drugs; the angry despair of lost youth; upheaval of the social order in the wake of rapid development and the super-charged resources enterprise; the arrival of cash currency and the jealousies it invites; rural desperation over broken roads; schools and health systems propelling women out of customary silence and men, struggling to find their place in this shifting landscape bitterly, often brutally, resentful.

“I have been in PNG since 1969,” says Sister Gaudentia. “We always had sanguma, but not to the extreme, not like it is now.”

Gibbs, who has published many articles on the issue, agrees that attacks have become more brutal. “It used to be that they would push someone over a cliff, something like that. They still ended up dead, but it wasn’t the torture, like now. This interrogation, this public stuff, with the kids watching, it becomes a spectacle.”

On the first day of Angela’s agonies, the nun pleaded with the watching police to intervene. Why would they and other community leaders not act? Gibbs explains: “Even if they would want to stop the violence, they have little power today in the face of a village mob — particularly when many young men within the mob are affected by alcohol or drugs”.

<p>Vlad Sokhin</p>

Vlad Sokhin

These men call their gang “Dirty Dons 585” and admit to rapes and armed robberies in the Port Moresby area. They say two-thirds of their victims are women.

PNG’s police force is underpaid, under-resourced and under-trained. It’s also notoriously corrupt and abusive. Many members subscribe to sorcery belief and some may see the interrogation of women like Angela as legitimate under custom, a view some argue is encouraged by the controversial PNG Sorcery Act of 1971, which acknowledges the existence of sorcery and criminalises both those who practice it and those who attack people accused of sorcery.

On that opening day of her “trial”, Angela was tortured, humiliated and interrogated; an absurd Monty Python-esque parody of prosecution in which she was in one moment accused of causing the deaths, the next being asked to give up the name of the real witch — “kolim nem, kolim nem [call the name]”, the gang demanded. At one point, in wracked desperation, she shouted out the name of another woman, but her accusers showed no interest.

For reasons not clear, they let her go, and the next day Sister Gaudentia heard she had been taken to a holding room at the police station, apparently for her safety. The nun tried to see her but the room was locked and no-one could locate the key. “I thought she was safe.” She later learned that at some point the police had released Angela after her attackers signed pledges to leave her alone.

It was lunchtime the next day when Sister heard the children’s chilling chorus outside the clinic window. “I left the car up the road and then we went into the village. At least we tried to go in,” the Sister recalls. The crowd was so dense she couldn’t push through. “I went back to the car and drove to the police station to report that they were torturing her again. The police commander said, ‘We can’t do anything. They promised me they wouldn’t.’”

Sister drove back, taking a priest with her. This time they fought their way through. “There must have been 600 people watching; men, women and children — a lot of them.”

Angela was naked, staked-out, spread-eagled on a rough frame before them, a blindfold tied over her eyes, a fire burning in a nearby drum. Being unable to see can only have inflated her terror, her sense of powerlessness and the menace around her; breathing the smoke and feeling the heat of the fire where the irons being used to burn her were warmed until they glowed. Would she be cooked, on that fire? She must have known it had happened to others before — and would soon infamously happen again, the pictures finding their way around the world.

The photographs witnesses took of Angela’s torture are shocking, both for the cruelty of the attackers and the torpid body-language of the spectators. Stone-faced men and women and wide-eyed children huddle under umbrellas, sheltering from the drenched highlands air as Angela writhes against the tethers at her wrists and ankles, twisting her body away from the length of hot iron which a young man aims at her genitals. [The photograph of Angela accompanying this article, taken on the first day of Angela’s torture, is confronting, but chosen as less humiliating and dangerous than pictures taken on the second day which would identify key individuals.]

Angela — a woman in her late 40s — is the mother of a small boy, says Philip Gibbs, who later collected her testimony and that of witnesses to her ordeal. Typical of the victims of sorcery-related attacks and killings in the highlands, she had been existing on the margins of her community. She had no husband or male family to protect her. Custom often requires women to leave behind the safe enclave of their own place and family when they marry. If their husband dies or leaves or abuses them, they find themselves stranded on “foreign” soil. As Gibbs has documented in his published work, which delves into the dynamics of accused and accusers, “when a family, believing that death comes through human agency, looks for a scapegoat to accuse, fingers will very often point at a woman without influential brothers or strong sons”.

Sister Gaudentia shouted over Angela’s screams, part begging, part ordering the interrogators she calls “the marijuana boys” to cease their assaults. “They held me back, stopped me getting to her,” she says. When Gibbs later investigated, he learned that the nun had put herself at dire risk — the torturers had tried to burn her, too. It was perhaps only her pale expat skin that saved her.

When there was nothing more she could do to stop Angela’s torment, the Sister gathered her clinic staff around her and shouted out to the crowd. “I called on the people. I asked, ‘Who here is a Catholic? Come, we will pray the rosary.’

“And a lot of people came and prayed with me. We prayed the whole rosary.” Angela’s suffering echoed around them through their invocation, the ritual comforts of one belief system colliding with the atrocities of another.

“A man came from another village and drove us back to the police and we pleaded with them again to come,” Sister recalls. She was still at the station when Angela was cut down. By then there was heavy rain falling. Perhaps the fire had gone out. Perhaps some of the sport had been dampened. Perhaps police did intervene.

It was around 5pm when “the marijuana boys” let Angela go, more than four hours after they began their assaults. When Angela’s elderly mother tried to attend to her they set upon her too, breaking her leg and her pelvis.

Later a police car delivered Angela and her mother to Sister Gaudentia’s clinic. “We treated them that night. People came to our house and wanted us to send these women out, but we didn’t.”

Then the mob grew and began shouting and throwing stones on the clinic roof, and Sister called the police, fearing the clinic would be burned down. “This time a different policeman came, he was really concerned. We had to agree to let the women go to the police cell for their own protection. We took them food.”

With that officer’s help, they smuggled Angela and her mother away by car, taking them a long way away, eventually finding them care in another hospital. When their physical wounds were healed, she was relocated again. She has now joined the ranks of sorcery survivors who are not only damaged but forever displaced by their experiences, refugees within their own country, forced away from the land many of them rely on for survival.

She remains in hiding with her young son.

<p>Vlad Sokhin</p>

Vlad Sokhin

Dini was accused of using black magic to kill her son. His friends dragged her to a pigsty, where she was tortured using bush knives and red-hot iron bars.

ON FEBRUARY 7, Papua New Guineans woke to the headline “Burnt Alive!” and pictures of a large crowd, including school children, watching as flames engulfed the body of a young woman.

It happened in the busy, mercurial hub of Mount Hagen, smack in the heart of the country. A 20-year-old mother of two, Kepari Leniata, had been stripped, tortured, trussed, doused with petrol, thrown on a rubbish tip, covered with tyres and set alight.

The killing was reportedly carried out by relatives of a six-year-old boy who had just died in the local hospital. They seized a couple of women they suspected of causing the death, among them Leniata, and soon determined that she would be the scapegoat of their grief. Witnesses claimed the crowd blocked police officers and firefighters who tried to intervene.

The news provoked a statement of “deep concern” from the UN human rights office and international media coverage. PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill condemned the killing as a “despicable” and “barbaric” act. He said he had instructed police to use all available manpower to bring the killers to justice.

“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,” said O’Neill. Similar sentiments resounded across PNG’s always animated social media scene, and included a push for a campaign to enlist Leniata’s name and legacy to rally momentum to address endemic, epidemic violence against women.

Leniata’s death and the anguish it provoked reprised a very similar scenario only two years ago, also on a rubbish tip in Mount Hagen, when an unidentified young woman — according to some reports, possibly as young as 16 — was tied at the stake and burned. But this time there were pictures. The horror of the act, and the passivity of the watching crowd, sent shockwaves across the country.

As the Post Courier’s Rheeney editorialised, the failure of witnesses to intervene, “to stop and condemn the murderers’ actions, points to a bigger danger of ordinary Papua New Guineans accepting this callous killing as normal and this methodology of dispensing justice as acceptable.

<p>Vlad Sokhin</p>

Vlad Sokhin

Dini shows wounds she received after she was accused of using sorcery to kill her own son.

“Respect for the rule of law and the rights of others are pillars of a modern-day democracy, and we would like to think PNG falls under this category,” he wrote. Leniata’s murder raised questions, he noted, about whether “we believe that justice is dispensed in a legally constituted court of law and not a kangaroo court chaired by individuals misled by superstition and trickery”.

The earlier witch-burning at Mount Hagen, in January 2009, had been the catalyst for the Government’s directive to the PNG Constitutional and Law Reform Commission to review sorcery violence and the legal issues around it. Community distress had peaked following a series of similar reports, including that people accused of sorcery had been roasted over slow fire, nailed to crosses, hung in public places and beaten to death, locked inside homes and set alight, weighted with stones and thrown into rivers, and hacked to death with machetes.

Now Rheeney’s editorial echoed the view of many PNG commentators and international human-rights groups when it urged the Government to at least pursue one powerful, urgent measure and fast-track the key recommendation to emerge from the review: repeal the Sorcery Act.

The 1971 Act, in its preamble, acknowledges “widespread belief throughout the country that there is such a thing as sorcery, and sorcerers have extra-ordinary powers that can be used sometimes for good purposes but more often bad ones”. It distinguishes “innocent sorcery”, defined as protective and curative, from “forbidden sorcery” — everything else.

The Act, the review explains, was largely aimed at recognising the reality of citizens’ concerns and to provide a mechanism for them to have an accused sorcerer dealt with by the courts rather than taking the law into their own hands. Extensive consultations out in the PNG provinces over the past two years revealed that many communities still wanted the law to recognise that sorcery was real and active, and to provide systems to prosecute and punish sorcerers and their accomplices.

As the late Sir Buri Kidu, PNG’s first national Chief Justice, observed in a judgment in 1980, “in many communities in Papua New Guinea belief in sorcery and its powers is very strong and we cannot brush it aside. My own people believe it and greater fear is caused by such belief.” (His Australian-born widow — Dame Carol Kidu, for many years the only woman in the PNG Parliament until her recent retirement — has recounted the story that every night of her young married life in the family’s village home, Buri’s mother would pull the shutters to keep out what in her language they called the “vada”, only to have Buri get up in the small hours and open them again.)

<p>Vlad Sokhin</p>

Vlad Sokhin

Rasta was accused of sorcery by people in her village after the death of a young man in 2003. She was set upon by a crowd at his funeral, beaten and strangled until she escaped. She lost her hand in the attack.

The review concluded that the Sorcery Act had plainly not prevented bad magic, and nor had it punished practitioners. What it had done was provide legal refuge for murderers and vigilantes to argue sorcery as a mitigating factor, allowing self-styled witch-killers — and comparatively few have even been prosecuted — to get off with light sentences.

After examining various options for amending the Act, the Commission has recommended its repeal, but with provision for village courts to continue to deal with sorcery disputes. It has drafted a Bill to that effect that commission secretary, Dr Eric Kwa, hopes will go before the PNG Parliament in the next few months.

“I’m really appalled by the [latest] reports,” Kwa told The Global Mail. “It is really sickening that Papua New Guineans are not able to stand up for the weak and vulnerable to oppose this evil in our society. We hope that with the repeal of the Sorcery Act [if the recommendation is supported], the normal criminal liabilities will apply in terms of serious crimes such as the one we read of today.”

Many commentators argue it will take much more than a change in legislation to achieve any meaningful inroads against the violence. Anthropologist Philip Gibbs, whose archive of work was heavily drawn on by the Law Reform Commission review, is one of them.

At the national level he urges the Government to also set up a PNG human-rights council — a measure promised in the past — and to consider establishing special police task forces to pursue killers. Human rights and UN agencies have repeatedly slammed PNG police for failing to intervene to stop attacks or to arrest suspects. But they also recognise the besieged force requires monumental investment in training, resources and equipment if it is to be effective.

As one 2011 UN report summarised, the PNG constabulary lacks everything from adequate pay, uniforms and accommodation to leadership. As a consequence, corruption is rife and morale poor. Police have almost no intelligence-gathering capacity. The likelihood of criminals being caught has been estimated at less than 3 per cent.

Even assuming the political will emerges to invest in stronger policing and community protection, it will be years before the terrorism fades in communities like Simbu, an epicentre for violence. Aid and development agencies have also been reluctant to touch the issue, says Richard Eves. “For many years religion was a taboo for donor agencies. Because it is so cultural and so complex, it’s not easy to come up with projects to address it.”

In the meantime concerned citizens, local human-rights activists and churches — deeply engaged with their congregations, and often the only functional institutions in sight — are devising grassroots interventions, some of them with substantial effect, according to Gibbs.

<p>Vlad Sokhin</p>

Vlad Sokhin

Rasta had one hand severed and the other mutilated by the frenzied crowd.

One such program is championed by Bishop Anton Bal, the Catholic bishop of Kundiawa, the capital of Simbu. Born and raised in the province’s remote south, he’s enlisting his networks and his understanding of the culture to find ways to infiltrate and change thinking. Working with him is Polish-born surgeon and priest Father Jan Jaworski, whose work in the community as a healer of body and soul over more than 25 years resonates widely, earning authority.

Through its close connections to families the diocese is able to measure the reverberating damage from sorcery violence. The casualties number many more than the dead. The bishop’s office has estimated that as much as 10 to 15 per cent of the population have been displaced by fallout from accusations and attacks, many of them banished, their homes and sustaining gardens destroyed.

Bishop Bal argues that the catch-22 with sorcery is that the more it’s talked about, the greater its power and allure. So his programs include training up networks of local parish volunteers as a kind of resistance movement. Operatives deflect and douse conversations about blame as soon as a death in the community occurs. They go to the funeral and when someone brings up the question of sanguma they shift the topic — talk about the weather, shut it down. Or raise the alarm.

Kundiawa is in name a provincial capital, but in reality a pit stop on the nation’s only east-west thoroughfare, the Highlands Highway, which is heavily trafficked and rapidly eroding under the wheels of fortified convoys running to and from mine sites. It’s also the trading post and heart of a far-flung society of hamlets sprinkled through some of PNG’s steepest, tallest, harshest and lushest ranges.

At Kundiawa Hospital, which is distinguished by the proud efforts of its staff and community as something of a showpiece within PNG’s weary provincial hospital network, Jaworski sees patients with sorcery-related trauma being admitted at least a couple of times a week. “[They’re] usually women, but not only. It’s the tip of the iceberg. It is still very strong [the belief]. It is part of the system of justice.” After so many years at sanguma ‘Ground Zero’, there’s not much that shocks him.

Part of his practice is to use the influence he has gained to interrupt the cycle of accusation and prosecution, to go to the grieving family and explain medical cause of death whenever he has the opportunity, and pray that his story finds its way onto the bush telegraph and around the district.

<p>Vlad Sokhin</p>

Vlad Sokhin

Gimu Jack, from Yamox Village in the Eastern Highlands. She lost her finger when her husband attacked her with an ax.

Not long ago the brother of a local politician died. When Jaworski got word that some 300 family members had gathered and were milling about looking for someone to blame, he went and confronted the mob. “I told them [his death] was his own responsibility. He was a fat man. He didn’t look after himself. Sometimes you have to put the responsibility on the person who has gone, or it hurts someone else.”

On another occasion he confronted the family of a young woman who had died of HIV/AIDS. When she was still a girl the family had given her to an older man in the community. She became his third wife, and then she became infected and sickened, leaving behind a young baby. “I told them ‘It is your fault she died — not sanguma. You sold her as a third wife.’ I wanted to burden them with the responsibility, otherwise they will just accuse someone else.

“The uncle stood up and said, ‘Thank you for providing the explanation — we will not go for sanguma’. It was a hard thing for the family to hear’ — and, the priest admits, a nerve-wracking thing to say to a riled Simbu family — “but otherwise some innocent will be tortured and killed.”

Anecdotal testimony, discreetly shared, points to a substantial and growing underground movement of self-proclaimed human-rights defenders working within communities to identify and hide people who are at risk of attack, or who have survived. In some of the most fraught parts of the highlands aid agency Oxfam engages in a range of programs that support some of those evolving networks.

But people operate in this sphere do so at some personal risk. In a locally infamous case in 2005 highlighted by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Anna Benny, a woman in Goroka who had a reputation for fearless work protecting and supporting rape victims, tried to defend her sister-in-law from allegations of sorcery. Both women were killed. Police took no action.

<p>Vlad Sokhin</p>

Vlad Sokhin

Emate Sekue was accused of using sorcery to kill her husband. She survived the brutal attack that followed, but has to pay for her own treatment, as the government offers neither support programs nor shelters.

In his interviews surveying survivors of sorcery-violence, including Angela — the woman likely rescued by the intervention of Sister Gaudentia and some heavy rain — Philip Gibbs identifies a consistent, fortifying thread. Those victims who lived to tell the tale owe their lives either to individual police members or to a strong church leader who intervened for them. “In effect it means that, if sufficiently motivated to act, the power of the police and civil authorities, or the power of the church, can be enough to defend a person who is otherwise powerless.”

Supporting people with the will and courage to exercise their power at the grassroots to tackle violence in any of its manifestations — domestic, social, sorcery-related — is the focus of Bal and Jaworski. Parables of successful interventions become their currency of hope. But they admit they are often despairing.

Jaworski blames much of the escalating violence in all spheres on deeper social malaise, in particular the angry frustrations of young men, and for which there are no easy remedies. “Today 70 to 90 per cent of young people are unemployed. They went to school, but there is no future for them. They don’t fit back in their gardens and their villages.” They are without prospects in the new world, and without skills for the old one.

On bleaker mornings, navigating broken roads strewn with rocks from a night of fighting, or stitching up the casualties in the operating theatre, Jaworski worries that the rage of young men will one day propel the community back to the tumbuna (the time of the ancestors).

“I hope I am a wrong prophet.”

Jo Chandler is a freelance journalist and an honorary fellow of the Alfred Deakin Research Institute. Vlad Sokhin is a Sydney-based photographer whose work includes the 2012 photo-documentary project "Crying Meri" about violence against women in Papua New Guinea.

374 comments on this story
by Michael Field

A stunning piece of journalism, tremendously important.

February 15, 2013 @ 3:01pm
by Reginald Renagi

Hi Jo,

A good story that will be widely read around the world and educated and cultured people will see that PNG for all its 37 years of political independence is still a very backward and uncivilised primitive stone-age country. This has only happened in recent years when young displaced men from some highlands provinces carry out these vile cowardardly acts of 'torching witches'. The coastal provinces do not torch witches as they do now in some highlands region.

February 15, 2013 @ 3:10pm
by Wendy Lee

Thank you Jo for an accurate, detailed and shocking explanation of what is happening in PNG, (mainly in the Highlands, but also elsewhere.) It is so important that these vicious attacks are documented, exposed and discussed, so that politicians, leaders, police, communities and churches have to listen, support better laws, change attitudes, and protect the vulnerable. It is dangerous and difficult to confront these beliefs and to try to stop the attacks, but the brave women human rights defenders network, NGOs, and individuals like Jan Jaworski, Anton Bal, and many others have shown how something can be done. Sorcery is simply one part of an epidemic of violence against women, and without a huge effort to promote wider gender equality, and confront damaging notions of masculinity, it will be impossible to eliminate.

February 15, 2013 @ 3:46pm
by Luke Gartrell

A harrowing read but a great article.

February 15, 2013 @ 4:49pm
by Robin Hodgson

Only by direct and continuous action, as well as much talking, from the Prime Minister of PNG will people take enough notice to become rational and bring an end to this evil that is bringing PNG to it's knees.

February 15, 2013 @ 4:51pm
by Salwah Kirk

Thank you so much, Jo and Vlad, for giving prominence to this scourge. The situation for PNG women is the worst in the world. The government doesn't seem to give a damn, being more concerned with high-profile foreign investments and their own perks.

February 15, 2013 @ 4:54pm
by Damon Leff

Witch-hunts (in almost every country in Africa but especially South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Tanzania and Sierra Leone, in India, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, Guatamala, Mexico, Bolivia, Haiti, state sponsored persecution in Saudi Arabia, and even in Poland, Georgia, Sweden and England), constitute gross human rights abuses. Please support an international advocacy campaign aimed at bringing an end to witch-hunts and witchcraft accusations in South Africa (and globally)?
Touchstone Advocacy
Advocating an end to witch-hunts globally

February 15, 2013 @ 9:17pm
by Paul Munro

A vivid and confronting story. Great credit to Jo Chandler and to Global mail for giving the coverage of an atrocious state of affairs. From my own limited experience in PNG, I know how pervasive the fear of sanguma and puri-puri can be; and how relatively widespread is local belief in its force.Surely a nation that prides itself on how far it has emerged from stone-age practices and beliefs must be able to devise ways in which less developed parts of the society learn to shun such primitive cruelties.

February 15, 2013 @ 11:00pm
by Damian

I think it is interesting to note the economy and the dependence of these people on their gardens. Or agriculture. Think Darwinism. If you are dependent on land for sustenance, the land cannot expand in the face of overpopulation and feed everyone equally well. Cultural mores always do reflect the economic conditions

February 16, 2013 @ 4:33am
by Todd

Religion is a horrible thing.

February 16, 2013 @ 5:02am
by Lyndsay Cimini

Jo, how can we help?

February 16, 2013 @ 5:18am
by Beth

Thank you for spreading awareness and telling this story. It's horrific, and the more people learn about it, perhaps the more that can be done.

February 16, 2013 @ 5:35am
by Joe

I spent three months in PNG in 2007 doing research on folklore in the Alotau area and also the Western Highlands. This culture is rampant with lawless and dangerous bands of young men. If you visit, never go anywhere alone or without a reliable guide. I appreciate this article despite the horror and the atrocities revealed. I also spoke with women who were in dangerous, abusive situations.

February 16, 2013 @ 5:46am
by VHudson

Thank you for writing such a fine article about such a horrible practice. I hope your work will spur some action . . .

February 16, 2013 @ 6:36am
by Gayatri

Just read the title, "It's 2013 and they're burning 'witches'" Put me off. As soon as you start categorising people into 'us' and 'them' the story has its own biased filter. Note, I am not for witch hunting, far from that. I think it's an important issue to cover, for sure. Just critical about the style of the title.

February 16, 2013 @ 7:00am
by Peter

There is nothing 'Noble' about savages !

February 16, 2013 @ 8:49am
by Kate Southam

I can only echo what Salwah Kirk has said. Thank you Jo and Vlad for the story. The work that has gone into it this feature is amazing. If PNG authorities are doing little or nothing to stop this monstrous treatment of its women then stories such as this are vital. It is a tough read but an important way to honour those that have suffered this tragic and cruel treatment.

February 16, 2013 @ 10:27am
by Brendan

Im iin Sydney. Why am I not seeing this in the media in Australia? Shocking

February 16, 2013 @ 10:36am
by cass

A hard read, at times nearly bringing me to tears, but important. Well-written. I hope and pray for the women (and occasional men), that the fear of hurting someone soon outweighs the fear of sorcery in PNG.

February 16, 2013 @ 11:01am
by Bill

I am in despair for these women.
Their torturers are not human.

February 16, 2013 @ 11:15am
by Mike

Important article. Fascinating use of the word "sanguma" for witches ... must be derived from the Zulu word (and borrowed by other Bantu languages in south-east Africa) "sangoma", which has the more usual (although not always) positive meaning of a "witchdocter", someone who heals. How did the word get to PNG in the totally malign sense? A sangoma in South Africa is someone who practises "ngoma" medicine.

February 16, 2013 @ 12:21pm
by Debbie Kearns

What can I do? This, more than almost any other tale of its challenges, leaves me feeling powerless and demoralised about the future of PNG.

February 16, 2013 @ 1:03pm
by Michelle Pitman

How ironic that is the catholic and Protestant Christian missionaries - currently so vilified in the rest of the world - who are doing their damnedest to save the women of PNG. Sad that they must! Sadder too, that western mining corporations are contributing to PNG's woes with impunity!

February 16, 2013 @ 1:20pm
by Geoff

The events described in this article are horrific and devastating. The human outcry should be deafening. Perhaps equally tragic is that the best Mike can offer is a linguistic correction? Seriously? Mike - you read that and the most compelling thing you can offer is a translational comment.

I will admit a powerless feel after reading this article. I will share it, hope to raise awareness, give it to my MP and MPP. And I'll pray.

February 16, 2013 @ 2:53pm
by The Gap Voter

While articles like these are worthwhile in their value to highlight violence, alcohol & substance abuse, gang/mob mentality that leads to lawlessness, this article leave me as a reader disempowered to help or act, becomes information becomes information for info sake. If only your journalist linked this article to organisations or programs that have solutions, or how to fund clinics like Sister Gaudentia's then I may be able to act with at least a donation to help end this torture featured in this story. (antidote to apathy)

February 16, 2013 @ 3:11pm
by Jo Chandler

How to help? Off top of my head - support/encourage policy that gives women voice and power in PNG. Note that it was an announcement by the PM last year to invest in helping women in the Pacific gain seats (Pacific has the lowest rates of women MPs in the world) that prompted the infamous Jones remark about 'why, women are destroying the joint'. Also investment through Australian aid, recognising how difficult the landscape is. Through private donations - Oxfam, International Womens Development Agence IWDA and Medecins Sans Frontieres are some agencies active in highlands communities (poke around, there are other) - MSF trying to set up desperately needed network of refuges for women. Also, do you or your super fund invest in companies mining in PNG? Ask questions - what are they doing to invest/support women and children and communities going through rapid and frequently painful transition. That should in turn put some pressure on the Big Men of PNG politics to take this seriously. Some thoughts for a start - but there are experts out there who probably have some better ideas. I will broadcast if I get them. - Jo Chandler

February 16, 2013 @ 3:24pm
by Susanne

Thank you for this story and for sharing these women's terrible experiences. I'm in Australia - PNG is so close, but I feel very helpless.

February 16, 2013 @ 4:48pm
by Zeg

The "NOBLE SAVAGE" eh? Let's never forget that in all of our cultural pasts there were practises similar to this that are now seen as barbaric..... and rightfully so. Don't tell me again that all cultures are equal because clearly many have a long way to go to catch up to the civilised world. I wish there was a way that our government could step in and somehow remove this backward belief system that causes so much pain & suffering to the innocent. Maybe forcing UN sanctions on that countries government, to do something serious about this horror.....There I said it.

February 16, 2013 @ 5:03pm
by Jacqui

Something has to be done but what?

February 16, 2013 @ 9:18pm
by Clare

I second Debbie's comment, what can we do?

February 16, 2013 @ 11:01pm
by Kristina

I wish this kind of savagery stemmed from a belief on 'sorcery' or 'the devil' - that would be easy to address. The sad fact is, that (to paraphrase Germaine Greer) ... women have no idea how much men hate them. This is not unique to the primitive societies of PNG - if men feel empowered to do so, they will relentlessly wreak havoc on women. I hasten to add, I am a woman over 65, not a revolutionary, just a saddened observer of history.

February 16, 2013 @ 11:53pm
by Karl

Zeg, The people discussed in this story are not some sort of relics, untouched by your perceived refined and civilized world, but rather people very much affected by contemporary events. Why don't you blame yourself and the consequences of forces brought into these areas from outside? I don't know where your from, but to assume that Western governments and their commercial collaborators have not had an impact in the PNG highlands is just ludicrous - why doesn't "our government step in"? It did, starting in the early 1930s. I lived for a couple of years in Simbu Province many years ago and, although it was not without violence, it certainly wasn't the brutal place described in this piece. I can only assume the dislocations and loss of control brought about by forces that are not entirely local are to blame. Don't assume swooping in with the UN or the US Army or Blackwater/Academi mercenaries or whatever will somehow magically bring enlightenment, wealth, and your Western mind-set. Do you propose that we beat them until they stop being violent?

February 17, 2013 @ 2:58am
by Corrad

Stop this stupidity, religion only leads to madness and insanity.

Stop torturing innocent women !!!

February 17, 2013 @ 4:39am
by a girl

oh my god, who are these barbarians, they should rot in hell, dammit.....!!

February 17, 2013 @ 5:40am
by MichelleC

Is there an organization that is working on this? I would love to volunteer time and money if there is. This is so amazingly scary.

February 17, 2013 @ 6:13am
by Donna

Really concerned that these people are so close to Australia. Change a belief system? Yeah maybe over the next 300-400years!

February 17, 2013 @ 7:29am
by Tessa

Incredible story, both in its content and the way it's told. As upsetting as it was to read, it is wonderful to see a journalist looking at some of the complexities and underlying factors of a serious issue. Well done.

February 17, 2013 @ 7:33am
by Mary Marrucci

yes what can we

United Nations

Amnesty International

Any use petitioning the Government Authorities?

February 17, 2013 @ 9:34am
by Casey Macneil

Outrageous. We need to work with PNG government to create change & educate & pay their police force properly.

February 17, 2013 @ 10:25am
by Casey Macneil

If we don't attempt to create change, we're just like the stone faced mob that watches, doing nothing.

February 17, 2013 @ 10:31am
by Penny Mitchell

Does anyone know of any NGOs that are working with young men in PNG, the kinds of young men leading these crimes? Like much other crime, It seems to me they need more education, structure and options in their lives. Good old fashioned youth work and community development probably has a lot to offer to this problem.

February 17, 2013 @ 11:46am
by Maria Mainhardt

Absolutely horrified, If V Day people are reading this....start in PNG cause OMG they need all the help they can get. IT'S 'BLOODY 2013'.... Australia's neighborhood/Our neighborhood! STOP THIS SENSELESS VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN!

February 17, 2013 @ 11:54am
by Sarah

Saying all cultures are not equal because some practices within them are abhorrent is a cop out. I'm sure that the victims of such abuse do not see this as culture. It is being pushed by a very small minority that uses fear of both the victim and fear of retribution if they speak out to encourage acceptance in the population. This is NOT culture.

As far as what we can do, let's start here:

February 17, 2013 @ 11:56am
by Catherine Thorburn

The culture of blame and culpability is endemic in remote highlands areas. Often an accusation of sorcery is a means of dispatching an unprotected female with no male family to protect her from the village. The tragic plight of women in PNG cannot be over emphasised. Domestic violence is still accepted in the wider PNG community in spite of numerous NGOs fighting against it.

February 17, 2013 @ 12:22pm
by Vlad Sokhin

To Penny Mitchell:
There is a PNG NGO called City Mission, they work with the street boys, helping them to leave the gangs.

February 17, 2013 @ 5:50pm
by Jane

Thing is we do send $ 300 million to PNG each yr for aid- as our closest neighbour we should do more - what is sad- so much lost in bribery- corruption -perks- we need to fix this

February 17, 2013 @ 8:06pm
by SallyStrange

<i> I'm sure that the victims of such abuse do not see this as culture. It is being pushed by a very small minority that uses fear of both the victim and fear of retribution if they speak out to encourage acceptance in the population. This is NOT culture.</i>

This is culture, precisely. I don't think you understand what the word culture really means. The fact that some cultures promote practices that are actively harmful to certain of its members does not disqualify them from being cultures. The good news is that cultures can change, and relatively quickly too, if there's enough desire for change.

February 17, 2013 @ 8:43pm
by Helen

Exactly Sally. "Culture" doesn't equal "good". Culture is the broth we all float around in. It's the practices and beliefs our society takes for granted. And it's something that needs to be recognised as a THING when we ask "how can we end these practices?" Because if something is culturally entrenched, that is a barrier to your task, and as such it must be taken into account when planning an approach to ending these kinds of violence. That's not at all the same as saying "it's culture, so it's OK".

February 18, 2013 @ 10:09am
by Mike

Come on Geoff (February 16, 2013 @ 2:53pm), that's a bit over the top to call my comment "tragic". I noted it was an important article because it exposed something awful to people like you and me, and hopefully people who can do something about it. My point wasn't a linguistic correction, it was an observation that the word had been transplanted between two continents without any apparent close ties - and therein may lie an interesting socio-historical story. Not every comment needs to be a cry of horror. If you want a meaningful target, hold a banner outside the PNG High Commission in Canberra.

February 18, 2013 @ 12:30pm
by BT Richards

Breaking news! It's 2013 and they still pray to Gods!!!

February 18, 2013 @ 2:30pm
by Pam

You think PNG is behind 2013 - a New Zealand District Health Board recently closed an 'alternative practices' clinic because the local doctors thought that witchcraft was being practiced there. Check it out at

February 18, 2013 @ 2:35pm
by Peter

A powerful story Jo. Well done.

February 18, 2013 @ 9:43pm
by Dwight

To those excoriating all "religion" as the source of these and the rest of the worlds problems, did it escape you that the main folks in this article trying to help these poor souls were and are Catholic nuns and priests?

February 19, 2013 @ 5:45am
by Barb

How much in terms of Australian women and men's taxes go to supporting aid to PNG - is any of this aid going towards supporting changing this situation - this word driven by the dollar and ignorance pervades our seemingly comfortable existence - when one is suffering we all suffer - when we know about suffering we share the knowledge and feeling and things can change for the better - its just a matter of where and how to start - eg we can demand that our tax dollars for aid to PNG to go towards ending this torture and killing which is mostly directed towards women .

February 19, 2013 @ 11:24am
by michael johnson

The saying goes "man is wolf to man"- it is the same everywhere as the crowd turns the other way or watches on ,it has always been this way, why has man been reduced to such cruelty and why do we continue to watch on ...and do nothing

February 19, 2013 @ 1:21pm
by Expat

I used to live in PNG and this story is no surprise - it is a very backward and barbaric place. I really feel for the women of PNG, their lives are completely miserable - yet what can we do about it? Christianity and praying for help is one thing, economic prosperity and jobs for women is another.

February 19, 2013 @ 4:20pm
by Jane

Reply to "expat"
I wonder if its all different now ?? It used to be a measured reprisal exacted as punishment for a perceived crime- now its becoming undirected- random? Possibly is this the result of 19-20-21st century white man's inevitable involvement in this ancient society - we have contributed to this outcome? All our aid- yes, it will go to Wantoks- its difficult to argue?

February 19, 2013 @ 8:05pm
by PJ

Shocking and sad

February 20, 2013 @ 12:08am
by Scott SChultz

A lack, t seems, may be the undercurrent as I interpret the article as written. Similar to the inner city issues in the US, people are desperate to live a life that matches the one that they perceive as the same as "those who have...".
If I may offer my input, it would seem that the System that allowed for the "industrial" invasion to arrive and obviously line someone's pockets without supplying adequate enforcement and distribution of wealth to the Citizens of the Country,
Mining and Coffee were specifically mentioned in the article as influences on bring "modernization" to the Country and with it the greed, manipulation, corruption to the top of the food chain and and resentment, isolation, greater social poverty and a core issue of Fear to the bottom of the food chain.
It is what is in a man's soul that allows for this type of behavior to exist. The government and municipal authorities have without a doubt benefited from the Industries arrival to their land, yet these are the people who have most forgotten what they have seen in their lives as far as the needs and difficulties of the People. They have turned on the very society for which they are a part, now separated from the issues. Fat with self importance and dying from the inside-out with an unspoken knowledge of Self deception.
May we all raise a prayer of gratitude for the Polish-born surgeon, priest and "Speaker for the Dead", Father Jan Jaworski, for it is his Honoring of the Human condition that speaks the loudest in the face of these hideous events and visions of the PNG society that the World must now hold up to the Light.

February 20, 2013 @ 2:46am
by H.a. Wat

Someone needs to tell these people that this will only create greater suffering for them. This is the law of nature- pain only brings greater pain for those who commit it and for those who witness it, especially upon someone who weilds spiritual power, regardless if they are good or bad. These people must be told they are destroying themselves doing this. Please, please, for their sake, for the natural world around them, they must become conscious.

February 20, 2013 @ 3:36am
by Donna

I'm curious as to the role of the introduction of Christianity into this milieu. While Christian missionaries can certainly help (my parents are among them there), I wonder if the evangelical rhetoric of 'spiritual warfare' and talk of Satan only serves to reinforce the idea that black magic has 'power'.

February 20, 2013 @ 5:43am
by I went there

I went there in 1984, crazy barbaric place full of crazy barbaric people.

February 20, 2013 @ 8:29am
by Patricia

What can we do about this? Nothing? The asnwer is very simple. It is not complicated at all. There is a lot of money that goes in aid. Aid agencies have immense power to pressure goverments. Make aid conditional upon the state to prosecute and heavily imprission those who commit these crimes. If the court is already full and disfuntional, throw a couple of millions into making a new court to prossecute excatly these crimes and a special police force. It will only take only three or four years of heavy policing and imprisioment of these crimes for the trend to stop. The problem is that there are no consecuences for the perpetrators. If there were consecuences this would simple not occur. Problem solved. It is not hard at all. It just need direct action. The problems with NGO's and aid and goverment organisation, too much 'TOK TOK' is sickening the ammount of money and people's time that goes into TOK TOK when it is so easy to make a plan and implemented it.

February 20, 2013 @ 9:48am
by Rob15

Thanks much for this article; the news needs to get out. 543 mob violence killings in Kenya in 2011, according to that year's Kenya Police crime report - yet the U.S. Department of State's Kenya country report on human rights practices for the same year didn't provide that or any total number, even when, per capita, that 543 is several times worse than the 235 white-and-black total of 1892, the worst year of recorded U.S. lynching history. What got much more space in that Kenya country report was discrimination due to sexual orientation, even though there were NO mob violence killings of gays to be mentioned. My point? Powerful countries like the U.S. have their foreign policy and social agenda priorities, and they don't necessarily include the human rights of the weakest and most vulnerable members of their valued neocolonial client states. What's a few hundred Africans brutally lynched if raising a stink about it in any serious way has any chance of harming the relationship? STOP THE LYNCHING.

February 20, 2013 @ 11:30am
by Glenn Davies

I am working in PNG with people who are ashamed and shocked at the way women are treated in their own country. As the article clearly illustrates, law enforcement is shambolic and little or no consequences exist for perpetrators. Leadership on doing something about sorcery in particular is difficult as those who voice a protest or claim some leadership are cast as sorceresses themselves. A dangerous path to tread with the lack of action to rebuke the claims reinforcing the growing power and boldness of the criminals.

February 20, 2013 @ 1:47pm
by Yama Michael

I think this situation is not only for PNG and the multi-populated number of women, its the same across all the developing nations across the globe. They are yet to be freed from their colonnel mindset, devastated culture and the lack of socio-economical independence. What do we do here than?

February 20, 2013 @ 5:32pm
by Kumul

I am a Papua New Guinean, born and raised. The issue of sorcery, witchcraft or black magic has been an ever existing one in this part of the world. With a strong cultural background many ancient rituals conducted by our ancestors still very much lives and breathes in isolated rural parts of the country. Our urban communities during the turn of the mid eighties cultivated western contemporary culture but it seems after several decades we have done so at snails pace. People living in rural parts of PNG have much to learn about christian behaviours and values moreover with the lack of development in these remote districts their caveman mentality remains in a prehistoric trance. Papua New Guineans condone the brutal killing as much as any of you here and we want to see those responsible suffer the full consequence of their barbaric inhumane acts against this woman. Please do not allow for this one horrible and tragic killing cast a shadow on all PNGeans, we are just as grossed out by this then anyone else I can assure you. We have only tasted contemporary culture in recent decades and have a long way to go before everyone else is on the same civilised page. Every developed country has a brutal, inhumane and barbaric page inside its history book, and this poor woman and the pain and torture she experienced is now going to be part of ours, my heart is with her. The men who did this will be caught and no doubt bare the heaviest part of justice this countries constitution serves.

February 20, 2013 @ 5:37pm
by Patricia

We don’t have to debate whether it is a religious issue or whether one culture is better or worse than others or whether it is the economy and so forth. The direct reason why this is happening is because people, simple, can get away with it. There are no consequences. To stop this from happening in the immediate present is very simple: Arrest perpetrators in 100 cases of witch hunting, give them a heavy sentence and publicised it widely. To do this: Australia’s aid for PNG is an estimated 493 million dollars. Take less than a million out of this budget work with the government to create a special police unit for this purpose, form a court to prosecute this cases and that is that. One year of perpetrators going to jail for life for these crimes would stop this from happening. Then, yes, of course, worry about implementing all those other programs that will benefit the economy, empower women and look after the youth. But if you want to stop the problem, right here and right now, the solution could not be easier. Consequences.

February 20, 2013 @ 9:27pm
by Bronte

I am so saddened & feel so helpless that these attrocities are still happening in any society. It also seems men are always the perpetrators of these appalling practices. Education is the key - ensuring Human Rights violations are not continued in these communities & societies still carrying out these acts stop treating women as less than human.

February 21, 2013 @ 12:12pm
by Sean

"It’s 1953, And They’re Burning ‘Witches’" - could this headline have been possible 60 years ago?

Unfortunately many of the comments reflect an assumption that these practices are traditional relics of primordial and backward tribes.

Whilst the narrative of this story is profound and important, its most important sentence is grounded in evidence gathered through research:

"The 2012 Law Reform Commission examination of sorcery-related attacks concluded that they have been rising since the 1980s"

Evidence suggests this is a modern problem, the source of which is most definitely not restricted to the valleys and highlands of PNG.

February 21, 2013 @ 11:31pm
by Paul

I am deeply saddened by this article, and feel so powerless in the face of the suffering of these women. If, as the article states, besides the superstition there is the added danger of educated young men, frustrated because they are caught between two worlds without the opportunities for life that education promised them, drugs and alcohol and frustration become an explosive mix.
At least, in part, the solution may lie in more determined efforts to build a web of employment opportunities where these educated young men can build a positive future for themselves.
And what bravery those nuns and priests and some of the police showed.

February 22, 2013 @ 10:48am
by Peter

I spent several years in PNG in the 1960s. "The Last Unknown" was finally becoming known and very few tribal areas remained uncontacted. The Australian administration was largely run by kiaps in districts and sub-districts in what was regarded as a paternalistic set-up through the Dept of Native Affairs, later the Dept of District Administration.

These kiaps were a mixture of eccentric, hardworking, well educated, often half troppo loners for whom I developed an enormous respect and admiration on account of their tireless dedication and often bad tempered rough justice. Sanguma existed then but there was never any of what has just now been described because of the fearless law enforcement under the Australian Administration. A kiap would have stopped such behaviour in its tracks, enforced discipline and jailed or otherwise punished the perpetrators. Any shilly shallying by the police would see them suspended or fired. And the people felt safe and secure.

Independence brought chaos to so muich of PNG as our social engineers and do-gooders assumed that we could develop people in a generatrion into a culture which has taken Europeans thirty or forty generations to acquire. In the meantime, together with many missionaries, a group of often erudite, high minded and hard working people remain unsung and unacknowledged by either Australians or Papua New Guineans. As Sean says this is a recent phnomenon but its genesis is not; many of the other comments are naive in the extreme and betray a total lack of understanding of PNG and its people. Continued Australian presence would have made sure it could never have come to this.

February 22, 2013 @ 11:10am
by jo

what can i do to help ?

February 22, 2013 @ 12:44pm
by Terry Black
February 22, 2013 @ 5:08pm
by Seamus McMahon

Excellent story and so true. I spent many years in P.N.G. and in the late 80s was in the Simbu Province and experienced exactly the same. Sure puts an end to the "noble savage" description of those people. As a missionary, I was often told to leave the "noble savage" alone and not be disturbing their paradise. Some paradise. And there is so much more, not least the tribal fighting . I still believe their only hope is Christianity(genuine) going hand in hand with development of the land. They don't have to live on Kaukau and Kumu and market gardening must surely involve them in the development of their country and provide them with cash. But then again, another problem. Yes, you guessed it. The grog. Help.

February 22, 2013 @ 11:00pm
by Rose Mary Harbinson

As a former missionary in PNG, working both in the Highlands and Port Moresby, these incidents are not new... the violence towards women and the vulnerable has always been a fragile and volatile issue... It is true that the church led communities offer stability and create a decent life pattern for people in the remote areas of the country but NOTHING will change unless the Politicians take this on board...! The UN hardly know where PNG is let alone make any noises, that was my experience when I visited the UN in New York, just a few years ago! So, these global news items and the Press can make a BIG impact on people to really support the work of Sr Gaudentia, Fr Jan and many wonderful missionaries who have had to deal with this unreported behavior or years. Just to open people's eyes to real life in PNG and not rely totally on the tourist image is paramount if any change it to take place. It is so hard to believe that Port Moresby can come across as a Modern city yet in the 21 century there are villages within a fifty radius that never see running water or experience heath or human sanitation! We can blame the youth, drugs, alcohol and pornography that is rife in the country, but it is the Government who must reorganize its priorities and train its police and not be so stubborn as to refuse help from overseas to work on this ever increasing problem that is destroying the soul and heart of PNG.

February 22, 2013 @ 11:24pm
by Gail Nicolosi

I'm just an ordinary woman, a grandmother raising a child in Australia and with a terminaly ill husband. When my husband dies soon, I would be banished to the fringe of society in one of these PNG villages and become a potential target for one of these drug and alcohol fuelled gangs.
What can I do, what can anyone do to stop the suffering of these people? Have the PNG police have no shame? The politicians - are they all so gutless nand lacking in courage? I think not. There are always good people in every mob. My husband was involved in PNG at a high government level nd verified the corruption at political level years ago. It still goes on as everyone knows who deals with anyone there. The missionary who points a finger at the Government is right. The politicians/government are the only hope for the country. Exposure to the world of these awful photos with the dates superimposed will help force change. What a quagmire of challenges, but it's only by facing reality of what is happening NOW still, that there can be change.

February 23, 2013 @ 8:22am
by Maggie McConnell

Dear God, please help these people. Bring the light of Christ to them. I cannot believe this horror. Save Gail and all those like her. Convert these demon-like men. In His name!

February 23, 2013 @ 4:29pm
by Sam Jones

Poignant words and photography- a powerful article. Thank you. What can we do to help these tortured souls?

February 23, 2013 @ 11:25pm
by martha

Someone needs to go in there and just shoot those bastards

February 24, 2013 @ 2:03am
by martha

The UN needs to go in there and take over.

February 24, 2013 @ 2:03am
by Liz

It's stories like this that make me question my faith, how can a loving and just God allow such evil to be perpertrated on vulnerable innocent people. What bothers me terribly is that catholics were there watching, ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? and started to pray while this woman was being tortured, some good the praying did. I'm more disgusted by the people that stood there and did nothing. I'm very much horrified by this story and am having a very hard time reconciling what I've been told about a just and loving God. Everyone tells me it's a free will thing, yes and since God has the ultimate free will he can STOP it all but chooses not too, any wonder people act with such violence when God doesn't do a thing to stop it.

February 24, 2013 @ 3:29am
by Arakiba

Ever notice how it's always the least powerful members of society -- women -- who are accused of witchcraft and horribly tortured/killed?

February 24, 2013 @ 12:19pm
by Jo Chandler

Dear Gail and Sam - both of you ask what can be done. Some expert suggestions are discussed in the follow up piece you will also find on The Global Mail. It's not necessarily just a matter of donating money through NGOs - though there are some who are active in PNG and tackling violence issues particularly (MSF, Oxfam, IWDA to name some I've seen doing really strong work in communities). It might also involve supporting or encouraging strong Australian foreign and aid policy initiatives, or using your shareholdings (directly or thru your super) - if you have them - to urge good corporate citizenship by mining/resources companies in the region. Here's the link:

February 24, 2013 @ 2:30pm
by francoise

This story comes as a shock to me as an anthropologist. Thanks to Jo Chandler and I am keen to arrange a presentation of 'Crying men' at Cambridge University as soon as possible. On a brief visit to PNG last year I was surprised to hear so much about sorcery and realised that it was an issue, but the violence depicted here was far beyond my imagination.

March 4, 2013 @ 4:39am
by rodney allsworth

and to think we in Australia live in a society where many among us would have us believe that marijuana and alcohol are not detrimental to society, may the lord have mercy on these women who who are butchered for the sake of -CULTURE, if any nation wants the benefits of western society, they must set aside their primitive culture, as is obvious in this terribly informative article, that does not mean it is discarded, it simply means it to be recorded and gauged against the advancments of modern society, new generations would very smartly see the reality of where their past was coming from, and as for the murderous males who attack helpless females, well I wont go there as I get get frustated by the slaughter house acts of such vile drug induced males,

March 7, 2013 @ 3:52pm
by Katrina Isabel johns

Peace pleeez

March 12, 2013 @ 1:46pm
by Katrina Isabel johns

It's inhuman

March 12, 2013 @ 1:47pm
by dawn

this is so very sad. granted there are people that practice badly but not all do and i wish the people would concider this. Do more research, especually when it is a family member. I am sadended by this story

March 12, 2013 @ 2:39pm
by CL

I am saddened too, but it proves my point that men are idiots!

March 12, 2013 @ 9:15pm
by Gsios

F that just cause u cant find a job or lower yrself enough to plant u torture n kill someone yeh cause thats the obvious they are good for nothing killers n deserve to be shoot down like the dogs they r they have no excuse nothing..I dnt wanna hear any excuses for this kind of behavor

March 12, 2013 @ 11:44pm
by a_ea_is_

@by dawn, when you say "granted there are people that practice badly" are you implying that there are indeed people who practice witchcraft? If so, that's completely absurd, regardless of moral or religious beliefs that any person possess, witchcraft, in any sense is a fiction.

March 13, 2013 @ 6:11am
by Cjay

Dawn you reprehensible individual. Some people 'practice' witchcraft? It doesn't exist. It's comments and stupidity like this allowing these attacks to go on. Grow up, get a grip and stop spreading mystical rubbish. People like you keeping these myths alive are helping these atrocities be explained away by a scared population. You have blood on your hands.

March 13, 2013 @ 6:45am
by Working Towards a New Era

My first reaction was anger and a feeling for revenge, which I forced myself, quickly, to reframe into sending strong energies that these attackers would have their hearts open, feel love, compassion and be healed. It will hurt them to have their hearts open and be healed... but they will be even stronger in their new awareness which will help in changing these brutal actions towards the very people to whom they have been so horribly cruel.

March 13, 2013 @ 7:24am
by justin

maybe we should let them do as they want, not what we think they want

March 13, 2013 @ 11:07am
by mutt

a lot of men in this world need to die, along with religion ( the abrahamic god) the greatest curse ever given to mankind

March 13, 2013 @ 12:41pm
by pravark

It's sort of insanity to inflict such cruelty on fellow humans.......we really need to work very much harder to eradicate religious superstitions of all kinds.......

March 13, 2013 @ 8:57pm
by Matt

@Justin, you cannot be morally serious

March 15, 2013 @ 12:57am
by L.M. Lembeck

What we all need, and especially the people in under developed countries, is EDUCATION. I so feel for these women. May the Goddess help them, protect them and find a new and safe life.

March 20, 2013 @ 5:58am
by A.Stock

Interesting that so many comments on this article call for an end of all religion as a solution to the problem when a religion, namely Catholic priests and nuns seem to be the only ones trying to do something about this problem on the community level.

March 22, 2013 @ 7:30am
by Dii Maiix

This is not good to spoil our own people like this.....

March 25, 2013 @ 5:16pm
by Busi

this is painful to read. as a woman i can just imagine what women in that community go through. most of these acts just show a lack of education. it is the governments responsibility to educate its people. a persons death can be caused by so many factors and a lack of knowledge causes them to look at sorcery as the only cause. women usually bear the brunt of the most violent attacks in this world. we are in 2013 yet such things are allowed to happen.all these men who perform such attacks have mothers,aunts,sisters,daughters,nieces why cant they have compassion for their fellow human being.

April 15, 2013 @ 8:01am
by Trev

The one thing that the Highlands needs is a strong, well armed and well organised police force. Highlanders are a violent bunch with some nasty habits. Been like that for thousands of years. They were bought under control by the Kiaps (Australian Patrol Officers) providing stability and security. The place bloomed with Coffee Plantations, Schools, Hospitals etc etc The local politicians that replaced the Australian administration are corrupt and have let the country slide back into anarchy, despite all it's mineral wealth. And it's not Western society that caused this corruption, most of the politicians are highlanders doing what they do best, screwing everybody except their family, after all, they've had 40,000 years of practice. And they've spread it around the country by migrating. I've seen good towns turned into crime ridden cess pits when highlanders arrive. They need a good kick up the ...... to teach them to behave civilly. The local politicians ain't going to do it, they are all too busy buying homes in Cairns, Australia, so they can send their families away from the crap they are causing.
For a good read on what's happened in PNG read Jared Diamond's The World Until Yesterday.

April 15, 2013 @ 9:23pm
by Passi

A war crime is being commited by these inhumanbeings and uncivilised Idiots

April 20, 2013 @ 8:38pm
by maekay

that was so horrible ...

April 22, 2013 @ 12:31am
by david

the media always reports the darker side of things and leave out some important things we need to consider.

May 12, 2013 @ 2:25am
by Bernadette Kahembwe

Witch craft beliefs are wide spread in black communities worldwide, there are recent events that happened in western Kenya, children are murdered in Uganda, Nigeria and albinos are suffering in Tanzania.

Thanks to those who are tirelessly advocating for the minority groups suffering worldwide. In 21st century we need to work together to stamp out any abuse especially the violation of human rights of the minority groups in our societies.

This can be done through network support for indigenous groups such as signing petitions urging governments concerned to stop these inhumane activities.
Acting together we are strong, that is what I believe in.

May 15, 2013 @ 1:52am
by Sam Deacon

I see what is going on, and its so sad to see how they deal with things here. Wondering why this is not out in the media or even done with a police case.
Just wondering what right do they have burning this women, are they choosing them because they are women or because they have no one else to blame.
To who ever got this story out, thank you for sharing this witht he world. At least not we know whats really going on there, and hopefully with a bit o awearness the Gov and its people can hep to bring this down. Case the way I see it is, PNG is caught up between the morndern times, and the old traditional culture. In one way or the other they will always clash, but they jusst have to deal with it or else more lives will be lost

May 20, 2013 @ 7:14pm
by KC

Women's rights are human rights. Until wen are people rather than chattel, men will feel they can dispose of them for any or no reason

May 21, 2013 @ 5:27pm
by larry mc kenna

a more obvious barbarity through ignorance and social cultural isolation from their government and outside world !

May 21, 2013 @ 7:44pm
by Polly

This is so sad ! No one should be burned alive or tortured like this....I hope these gangs and people become a little more compassionate and civilised. Its 2013..This is so sad

May 21, 2013 @ 7:47pm
by Teresa Bilowus

How can we help? What can we do? Please tell us what we can do. I am an educated Australian living in the UK. Point me in the direction of how I can help these women. Please. Petitions? Protests? Letters? What can I do to help? I want to help now. Right now.

May 21, 2013 @ 7:58pm
by A Davies

How vile must these "men" be to carry out such atrocities on innocent people. It's hard to comprehend that anyone could still hold such beliefs. However, the increase of similar "witch craft" stories in Western countries would suggest that this ignorance is being exported yet our governments are so impotent and politically correct that they won't do anything about it.

May 21, 2013 @ 8:52pm
by Sandy

The world needs to hear about these poor people, what a fragile place to live, when they believe that black magic is the reason for just plan life and the lack of food and medicine is the real cause of these deaths. I pray for intervention.

May 21, 2013 @ 8:54pm
by Lakshmi

Heart breaking to see how People are so inhuman !

May 21, 2013 @ 9:39pm
by lala

thank you jo chandler for your eye, words, engagement...

May 21, 2013 @ 11:19pm
by toesinsand

Ignorance is tough to treat.

May 21, 2013 @ 11:47pm
by John

Sad, bitter and disturbing.

May 21, 2013 @ 11:58pm
by FreeDom

Ignorance is a major human disease, and it is fostered by the elite of this world!

May 22, 2013 @ 12:01am
by Nick Folkes

And do-gooders wonder why so many Australians don't want anymore third worlders here.

May 22, 2013 @ 12:22am
by Gerry

This must be stopped and stopped now. When I see the onlookers it makes me fear our governments more than ever, how long will it be before we are "detaining" activists ? simply for being against the banks who are killing us.

May 22, 2013 @ 12:31am
by Janie

Where are the global assistance forces here? A few determined Roman Catholics seems to be it. No medical care. No support or training for police. Ah, yes. There's no oil in PNG, is there, so it doesn't exist.

May 22, 2013 @ 12:47am
by Stanko Vincetic

I do not know how to give a comment to this story. This is madnes! How can they do such a thing without any proof or what so ever if they believe in black magic, they just point a finger at you and you are a wich that is realy insane.

May 22, 2013 @ 1:37am
by Shafic

it's Sad really I feel sorry to them:

May 22, 2013 @ 1:38am
by Devomitra Choudhury

indeed heart wrenching to know that backwardness and parochialism still breeds at its inhuman best in the 21st century.

May 22, 2013 @ 1:44am
by pals

inhuman... worse than cannibals
could not believe such ppl exist

May 22, 2013 @ 2:13am
by cultural anthropology

More people would die and suffer due to Westernization than from cultural ritual, lack of food, and disease.

May 22, 2013 @ 2:22am
by Jane

It's sad that in so many cultures women get the short end of the stick. Violence against women occurs in so many forms. This is yet another tragic scenario.

May 22, 2013 @ 2:41am
by pragati

Helll.....wts wrong with ppl..its suffocating...whenever i read inhuman behaviour against woman then only one question comes to my mind - is it a curse to be a woman! Its the time when ppl shud be educated properly...why the govt of such countries shell out money to educate ppl rather than filling up their own bank accounts!

May 22, 2013 @ 3:40am
by ramesh

omg.............where i am living!!!!!!!!! horrible

May 22, 2013 @ 4:42am
by Effie Semaan

I can't believe this is taking place in this day and age. What is an enlightened society doing about this ?

May 22, 2013 @ 4:48am
by Paramita Sarkar

We are so very unknown and unaware about the dark side of human nature!! When will they come into the light of humanity?

May 22, 2013 @ 4:52am
by Doreen Bull

I am appalled at this article that someone would defame a human being by some judgemental weakheaded individual. I will not stand with those who think they have a right to judge another human being for the sake of earning a some of money for their own good. I refuse to believe such lies and trickery. Say no to violence anywhere on Mother Earth. Look at those who have come into your villages for wealth and game. Please be dilegent to stand for your rights and rally against those who want fame and fortune. Raise awareness.

May 22, 2013 @ 5:32am
by saeed sadri

yet another failure of humanity in protect the real victims from real criminals :-(

May 22, 2013 @ 5:43am
by Richard Pate

These Woman Have Right, To Speak out, We Need To Help out.

May 22, 2013 @ 6:05am
by Youknowimright

Must not be any oil there. Otherwise the US would be all over this.

May 22, 2013 @ 8:21am
by sarah_good

that is heart breaking!!
being a "witch", wiccan, or pagan is a beautiful religion.
the entire world needs to be educated on what the term REALLY means!!

May 22, 2013 @ 9:02am
by jayne miller

don't support the tourist industry in these areas.

May 22, 2013 @ 9:10am
by jennifer v millward

unbearable ...sorrow; these women,children and silenced men are in . This is conveiniently social /populace erradication?As in australia /else where ... the dispossesed (intoxicated/druged etc via opportunist profiteers rousting indigeneous vs indidgeneous(civil war) for rainforrest profit /land grabs...)??!!and other 'viable' "interests"...

May 22, 2013 @ 10:17am
by alaknanda singh

eradicate these societies from main steam can not be a solution. it cant' helpful in any kind for victims....we will keep spreading awareness and educate the young ones. ....

May 22, 2013 @ 1:11pm
by Tracy

@sarah_good I think you're missing the point. These people need to be educated about science and medicine. The real reasons behind the deaths that cause these attacks.

May 22, 2013 @ 3:11pm
by Pascal

Pray and be the change you want to see. The time: NOW!

May 22, 2013 @ 8:47pm
by sachchi

soul-wrenching !!

May 22, 2013 @ 9:10pm
by UKhan

Those kind of witches and devil worshipper must be punish and keep punish!! because they are destroying the world with their fucking devils and other shit... BUT i condemned about burning someone alive to death.. this is not appropriate as a punishment.. Moreover all this is black magic rituals specially when u r using demon to harm people is such an unforgiven act toward gods! So, its better to punish them here at a limite without killing and bloodshed.. better beat them .. and send them to jail .. i believe the real punishman will be by god himself.

May 22, 2013 @ 11:13pm
by Rex Duis

UKhan you are a primitive savage! You are not the judge of who is a 'witch' or not. You have no right to take another persons life just because you feel like blaming them for what's wrong with the world or your life. YOU are a big part of the problem here clearly... people who are ignorant and fearful cause more harm than good, and while you make the innocent pay. the truly guilty are free to get away with their crimes again and again.

May 23, 2013 @ 12:04am
by Bip

How ignorant you sound....You are part of the problem when you spout bullshit like that and harm human beings for something YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT!!!!!!! Another thing cutting on people(cutting limbs and causing physical harm to others is no better than the stuff you are spewing) You peole out there hurting others and burning people alive are stuck in the stone ages......This world is getting more screwed up and more screwed up by the day.

May 23, 2013 @ 12:12am
by Bip

This all horrible and saddens me that women have to hide who they are in modern days.

May 23, 2013 @ 12:13am
by Daniel Ravensong

I suppose that it's so much easier to blame something and someone that you don't understand then find out what really happened. I am a witch and a Wiccan, and this is unacceptable. These women are wise and caring, and they don't deserve the torture that they are getting. May the goddess protect them from the ignorance of the people around them. Blessed be!

May 23, 2013 @ 12:54am
by Virginia

UKhan actually magic is not black or white good or bad. It is just there and it the the person using it and the intentions of which they are trying to accomplish that make it bad or good. And people who practice magic such as pagans druids alchemists wiccans and so forth and so on don't believe in the devil or hell. We don't even recognize the existence of either. And if you had taken the time to read the entire article you would have read that they were burning these women genitals and everything. How can you condone that? And only because these are the grieving families looking for someone to blame for the deaths of their family members.And they are high on very potent brewed drugs and are not thinking clearly. Most of these women don't even practice magic. And it even says the one gang commits all types of criminal acts such as rape burglaries and so forth and so on and 2/3 of them are women that they attack. And the women they attack then have nothing to do with magic and are completely innocent victims.

May 23, 2013 @ 1:53am
by Geoff Miethe


May 23, 2013 @ 3:15am
by ceru

Its sad that ignorance runs amok and so many innocent people suffer just because someone wants someone to blame.

May 23, 2013 @ 4:36am
by Chin


You read this article and immediately start your rant about witches etc. Get real. Witches don't exist. Only weak defenseless women who fall prey to the sadistic religiosity of superstitious dregs like you. Monsters like you are the reason such atrocities happen. Get therapy. Or just die and make this world a better place.

May 23, 2013 @ 5:13am

I don't understand what kind of f****ing Idiots are there in this world. I am a hardcore Atheist with my own reasoning. But let me ask to these people who are involved in such acts, If they believe in witchcraft then they should also believe in God. And if they believe in God then the ultimate right of punishing an act lies with him.
The other reason I have is if there is a God and he is the ultimate almighty then why the Demon wins in their intention. And if Demon wins and they definitely not humans then what these people will be able to achieve after killing the mediums.
The real Demons are inside the people who perform /Support /promotee such Acts. I believe the God and Demon both lies in the people Heart in this world only.


May 23, 2013 @ 5:41am
by Matt

^^ UKhan -- What? Black magic and shit is superficial. and so is your so called god. No one should be punished in that way at all for crimes surely that they have not committed. Just send in Covert spec ops or some shit to take out the 'Dirty Dons 585' obviously they think they're above the law.

May 23, 2013 @ 8:02am
by Pagan

UKhan, you and people like you ARE THE PROBLEM!

May 23, 2013 @ 9:03am
by Ghost

All the people who beat, raped, strangled and kill a woman. They deserve to die!!! See you in hell.

May 23, 2013 @ 12:44pm
by KindaKristi

You are deluded UKhan, people die from bacterial infection, they die from physical illness rooted in physical causes. You are bringing evil into your homes and villages. If there are demons being commanded, it is you who would hurt and kill innocents that are bringing them to life. Your gods are false and unworthy if they demand the blood and torture.

May 23, 2013 @ 12:51pm
by Jya Primila Sinadurai

for tis ppl who believe in witch craft sure happen 2 hv modern riffles/machine guns. Well it's their mentality tat nids changes

May 23, 2013 @ 12:57pm
by Jonathan

^what? you are insane.

May 23, 2013 @ 1:08pm
by Pam Urey

Please educate these people for goodness sake

May 23, 2013 @ 1:10pm
by Faith

UKhan... I can't begin to start to point out the idiotic things you said... Just... WOW! Really?! Do you pray to saints? Do you ask for help or guidance from anyone other then God? I hope you wake up, I really do. I hope someone educates you.

The only people that have destroyed the world with devils, are Christians. Who converted by the sword? Who stormed cities, burned/tortured people who spoke against the 'church' and God? Who destroyed cultures, ways of life, all for a book?

These poor people are scapegoats. They did nothing wrong, probably not even non-christian. They were convenient targets for a frightened angry mob.

May 23, 2013 @ 1:29pm
by Don

Stupid ass people.

May 23, 2013 @ 2:14pm
by Yass

UKhan, people like you and those animals that accuse women of being witches and torture them they way they do, are the reason this world is doomed. Not the innocent women, not even those who claim to practice witchery, but YOU and the bunch of soulless evil idiots who claim themselves as God followers who don't even know the freaking bible enough to know you can't do any of that punishment are the monsters, demons and pure image of the devil, if such thing even exist. Only in countries where ignorance and idiocy along with poor conditions things kind of things happen. You're lucky you can hide your pathetic and useless being behind a computer screen because in countries like mine, you and those animals described in this article would be the ones suffering all of what's being done to these poor women.

May 23, 2013 @ 2:26pm
by Sarah

People point a finger and cry "witchcraft!" and an innocent dies. This is not new, people have been pointing that burning finger at fringe women since the dawn of the human disgrace. Race. Poor? Witch. Rich? Witch. Opinionated? Witch. Gifted healer? Witch. Chooses to live alone and not marry? Witch. Doesn't fit the model of contemporary beauty? Witch. Intelligent? Witch. There were times and places that being able to read and cipher could earn a woman that accusation.

The Burning Times never ended, and it makes me so sick that it seems like nothing will ever change.

May 23, 2013 @ 2:32pm
by Canadian liberated woman are ignorant and demented...You show how uneducated you really are. YOU are part of the problem. What an a**hole. Theres no such thing as having "the power" to do any of the things these people are accused of doing by "witchcraft". I wish the rest of the world would help all these uneducated, ignorant 3rd world countries already. The world is getting smaller and there needs to be no tolerance for such ignorance anymore. We ALL know better for f*&k sake...

May 23, 2013 @ 2:51pm
by Jaslyn

What is wrong with their mindset? What are they thinking? Those bastards who harmed and burned the innocents must be punished! The village have to be educated!

May 23, 2013 @ 2:53pm
by Alicia

Ukhan, these women are not really witches, they are innocent victims of idiots like you who want to blame all their woes those who are not like them. Grow up you spineless little fraction of a man

May 23, 2013 @ 2:53pm
by Rezurexion7

Seriously, you propose "punishing" people? How about if we punish you for wanting another human being punished? First of all, these ladies were not witches; they were merely accusations from people who were looking for "scapegoats" to place the blame on innocent women. For one, women in these countries have 0 rights. You see if men die they are interested in finding someone to blame. These women do not desserve to be mutilated. Theses assholes burning them desserve guelding. There are no support groups for these women from the government and these guys killing, assaulting, and mutilating these women are seeing no repercussion for their actions. Hurting another human being is wrong. One thing is people's believe system. But seriously, be honestly honest; when have any of you seen a demon in real life? An Angel? Or God? No one has. I believe in God, but I am not going to pu isb anyone. God/Jesus said to love others as I have loved myself. Hating someone is not going be a solution. Hurting someone in base of my belief system is just unacceptable. . . Violence is not the answer. If Jesus was presently here at this moment he would not ask you to punish them? How can you save souls whn you are so quick to throw judgements. Fundamentally, who are you to judge them? Who are you to say they should be punished. They have inflicted no physical damage to no one. Criminals that commit crimes like killing, mutilation to victims, pedophiles, ,thieves and rapists belong behind bars under punishment. And even jesus came for them too? He didn't come for the perfect. How can you heal a perfect person? You can't, you must heal the sick? How can you proove that these women were doing sorcery? Show me physical and tangible evidence? And if they were, how do you know that this worked? Maybe those boys qnd husbands had quarrels with other men. Those people always fight each others with machetes and knives over chickens, corn and lands. They have no respect for human life or perspective of humane behavior. They live under perpetual ignorance. Enslaved by animalistic traditions. The bad shit that happens is not sorcery or witch craft. It happens because every time an innocent dies their spilt blood goes to the earth. Earth cries for justice. Every time a girl gets raped their spirit cries for justice. Every time a child get abused their spirit cries for justice. Don't blame stupid shit on demons... People are evil, we are reaping what we have sowed.

Don't come with your rotten doctrine to preach anything opposite than love. Jesus would not judge them even if they been guilty but he'd offer them a clean slate and a new beginning. Don't be such a blind legalist.

May 23, 2013 @ 3:38pm
by dd

this is disgusting!!! these "men" if you can call them that MUST pay for what they've done and this WILL stop

May 23, 2013 @ 3:39pm
by Zim

Sounds like religion, which happens to be the problem just about worldwide.

May 23, 2013 @ 3:48pm
by Kat

What proof is there that it is these people that they are accusing? Other than the fact that they are "different" in some sort of way? I mean, look hard enough, and you'll find differences in every individual. That's a whole part of being unique, isn't it? Or is that just for one gender and why most of the targets here (granted, not all) are women? Because they are seen as the weaker gender and are thus bullied because those who wish to accuse don't wish to stand up to someone who can actually defend themselves? Besides that, what kind of god is to be worshiped that allows torment and torture, especially of those who have no actually evidence against them? it's just sadistic cruelty. And the people who go after these so-called witches need to be put in jail. They're the real threats. And a way needs to be figured out of how to help the police so they can actually do their job. Whereas praying and sending out positive energy may be alright, something more needs to be done. Taking action. Which means figuring out what exactly needs to be done. Incentive so that people will stop looking for scapegoats. Something like what that doctor was doing. Educating. Redirecting their anger and grief. It's tragic and difficult to lose a loved one. However, as the saying goes, an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. If everyone takes an eye for an eye that was taken, when does the insanity end? Never. Find a constructive way for letting out all of that pent-up negativity. But, not by unleashing it on other people, least of all someone who had absolutely NOTHING to do with the crime they're being accused of.

May 23, 2013 @ 3:57pm
by Harriet

WHEN will they ever learn ? This makes me sick & embaraced to be of the Human race !

For thousands & thousands of years, man hasnt yet learned, despite repeating every single step so so many times, & still get´s the exact same result : That it doesnt at all solve anything !
EDUCATION is the key ! INFORM people, make them wiser !

I am not in a position where I could gather a crew to travel to that Contry & DO something about it - but I sure hope that somebody can & will ...................
This has to end, & eveyrthing all over across the planet similar !!!!

May 23, 2013 @ 4:50pm
by shane woods

For thousands of years the people of PNG have been practicing their ways and for the most part the deaths were infrequent. when WHIITE man saw just another 'backward' peoples to exploit, to strip them of THEIR country's wealth, it was then that things changed. gangs raping and robbing others were not around before the whites. the whites move in, they don't really bother to educate, to build roads into the highlands to introdce education, medicine or health care. the don't try to raise the people's standard of living. NOTHING! is it any wonder these things are happening? how many millions, No! BILLIONS of dollars worth of weath has been stolen from them? now, in some places the PNG military (Aided by mercinaries) are fighting the local 'rebel's' because the locals have finally woken to the fact that they are being robbed, but they are the villians, the "terrorists". REALLY want to stop these types of murders? pay your dues!

May 23, 2013 @ 5:14pm
by Emi Ly

A better story would be: "its 2013 and we are still fighting wars over religion??"

May 23, 2013 @ 6:23pm
by directdemocracy

religions..... they suck

May 23, 2013 @ 7:38pm
by Rukunuddin Ahmed

NO, Think positively and migrate ethical humanist to PNG and south pacific islands to reform the race to a modern honest and truth. We can convert this generation to teach and work to change their poverty line. Do you think 80/90% of youth are unemployed? We should feel sorry for the mass poor of PNG and should work for them, love them and also pray to god. Please do not blame them, this the dark side of our modernization with conflict war attitude, which separated the global community in most dangerous future.

May 23, 2013 @ 7:56pm
by Anna Harpley

On what basis can the PNG Government NOT provide support funds and refuge to victims of rape and sorcery torture when revenue from the Mining Boom is immense???

May 23, 2013 @ 8:23pm
by Richard W

UKhan, please just come back and tell me that you're just trolling this thread....don't let me seriously believe that someone who has enough coherent thought to get online and post to a discussion, could genuinely hold those opinions?
If so, then please help prove Darwin's theory right and go play in heavy traffic. To find such behaviour and treatment to fellow human beings acceptable beggars belief, no matter the supposed crime.
I suggest that the only evil seen here is in the hearts of those who whip the crowd up to such a frenzy that mob rule and mob mentality take over.
Education must be the key, that and a political will to find and prosecute under the law those who have committed these crimes against these poor women - and that's another thing.....The vast majority of the victims here are women. What does that tell you?

May 23, 2013 @ 9:52pm
by Liz

Witch-Burnings?? GET REAL! The people who do this to innocents are evil monsters & hopefully suffer the same punishment they inflict on their innocent victims! Karma will get them 10-fold if the law doesn't. So Mote It Be!

May 23, 2013 @ 10:17pm
by Charles Shingledecker

To all the people defending. Christianity -- need I remind you that 500 years ago Christians across Europe were doing this very same thing for religious/superstitious reasons just like this? Yes, NOW Christians try and save women from these horrors, but it was not always so. So we best not become to boastful in our desire to get Christianity off the hook. Of course, Christianity is NOT to blame for THIS; however, superstitious thinking in general, including beliefs in witches, demons, and devils surely is. What these people need is scientific education that raises their minds it of the demon haunted world (as Carl Sagan would put it). That is how and why Christians stopped burning 'witches' and it will work elsewhere too. This is all very sad and horrible but a much needed article that is very well written.

PS: I AM a Christian btw, so don't tell me I'm just bashing religion. I'm not. Just pointing out some things that too many people seem to forget

May 23, 2013 @ 11:04pm
by Amna Sharif

Horrifying stories of these medieval crimes which were supposed to end with the dark ages. Can't believe such crimes still take place in this world and people have such a dead conscience and sense of justice, and lack of basic moral kindness that allows this to happen...this should be on the top of all the international attention deserving issues.

May 23, 2013 @ 11:33pm
by Tania

This hole entire story is horrifying. I am appalled and disgusted. I wish this primitive behavior would stop. Alas, I feel change may take many years to occur. My heart goes out to all those poor women tortured to death for no reason at all.

May 24, 2013 @ 12:01am
by Lisa

This broke my heart. I can not even begin to comprehend how this is allowed. Sadly this will never get the attention it so desperately desserves. Maybe if they had oil or something we...the rest of the world would be compelled to do something. The worst part is the children's acceptance. I will continue to be haunted by this long after I leave this page.

May 24, 2013 @ 2:27am
by bruce call yourself a Christian yet state devils are imaginary superstitions..completely at odds with Christ who cast out many demons..perhaps you need to re-read the Bible.

May 24, 2013 @ 2:33am
by Mandy

Proof of the power of journalism - Good! Although why it isn't on the international news is beyond me. Time and time again, we see primarily women bearing the brunt of a disgruntled society. The more women are educated and empowered, the better the chance of changing a society.

May 24, 2013 @ 3:32am
by Paul

To Charles Shingledecker,
The atrocities you speak of committed by those calling themselves Christians, were not committed by truly redeemed followers of Jesus Christ. They only called themselves Christians, but were not living examples of the love of Jesus. When you blame Christians, you indite those who love Christ along with those who only use His name for personal gain, but who have no idea of the love He represents. History books have perpetuated the myth that true Christians, those who are redeemed, are at fault. What someone does in the name of a group or organization, doesn't always represent that group. I am not defending those guilty of those grievous crimes, rather those who were or are the true believers and are innocent of such atrocities.

May 24, 2013 @ 4:42am
by Moni

Charles, and your point is? What exactly is your post trying to accomplish? Is your account of one part of history (and no, not all Christians acted that way) solve anything other than to promote your self acclaimed "gotcha moment"? Lose the attitude. Christians are not boasting - they are trying to help.

May 24, 2013 @ 4:45am
by Dee Green

These men fuckin worthless rats, lets go burn these murderers. How can you say someone uses "black magic" and everyone agrees with you so much that they kill that person. These people are so brainwashed and stuck in a continuous cycle of murdering and abusing women. That type of "burn the witch" mentality originated in Europe and is still continuing to travel around the world.

May 24, 2013 @ 7:43am
by Janis Wilkins

It's self hating patriarchal ignorant men who have totally forgotten from whence they came. This is just horrifying and I wonder at what point does someone revert to this behavior, crazier in gangs of course.

May 24, 2013 @ 3:53pm
by Lisa

it's no surprise that this sort of thing is still happening today...It is truly the result of rising ignorance and the unnatural need for violence...It's beyond me how the "human" race is still surviving...

May 25, 2013 @ 12:38am
by Janis

It's self hating patriarchal ignorant men who have totally forgotten from whence they came. This is just horrifying and I wonder at what point does someone revert to this behavior, crazier in gangs of course.

May 25, 2013 @ 3:12am
by Kylie Mcvie - Jessop

When is going to stop religion concurs and divides our world ....
And people need to stop it .. Violence what dose it solve ???? It's all fear based !!!

May 25, 2013 @ 7:43am
by angry man

jesus fucking christ. why are there shitty christians here whining about religion being mentioned? focus on the actual issue here, instead of being defensive and trying to excuse this with "they were not real christians" or whatever.

WE GET IT: when people do something good, they're christians. when they do something bad, they're not christians. when something good happens, it's a miracle by god. if something bad happens, it's just fate. we understand your shitty backwards logic.

please just shut the fuck up. people are not attributing this to the christian faith, it's obviously a result of cultural and social issues - with christianity being a perfect tool to excuse such actions with.

May 25, 2013 @ 8:12am
by Emilio

Yes, Christians are trying to help! Like the Christian missionaries who advocated for legislation in Uganda to punish gays with the death penalty!

May 25, 2013 @ 8:18am
by JBK

The West only exists in the West. The idea that our ideas and modern life exists in the majority of the world and cultures just does not exist. It is cocooned life. And even in the west the barbarity and blame and abuse of women, children and those who are weaker and more vulnerable in society and can be abused for societies ills persists. ie: persecution and abuse and growing abuse of disabled in this country (England) and the loss of rights of women, children, elderly and disabled in era of austerity. Rose coloured tinted spectacles if anyone thinks civilisation is true of the standard we all live in. Cushioned, rose coloured spectacles. from an indulged naive generation.

May 25, 2013 @ 8:25am
by Brother Amfri

Thanks for posting this. I know many Christians are upset, but they really need to read what is in their so called holy book. Ignorant statements simply cannot be printed, distributedindiscriminately, and proselytized without those doing so (or supporting the the book) sharing in the responsibility of the effects said book causes.

I am not atheist, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Rasta, etc. I believe in what some call a higher power. I simply call it Intelligence. I am all for exposing ignorance even if it is my own.

May 25, 2013 @ 8:30am
by gary

all your gods all your science and reason leaves a nippy taste in the's 2013 and we have'nt progressed very far as a race.we still seem to be a lost cause.hurtling everfaster to our own self inflicted demise.i spotted this by really brings home how far apart our societies are growing.a very disturbing read,and even more disturbing images that will remain in my thoughts for a long long time.

May 25, 2013 @ 8:35am
by Reverend Ken

Paul, if you truly read and understood the Bible, you would understand that Christianity *IS* an inherently vicious religion. Jesus came to form a new covenant, yes, but he also clarified that everything "my Father" said and did in the Old Testament was still law - including the atrocities that his Father ("God", or rather "Him", since Jesus was merely a avatar of "God") had committed. Sure, it's not as violent as say, Islam, but the both aren't peaceful religions at all.

May 25, 2013 @ 8:35am
by willard

If the Australian government was doing it's job, it would send in army rangers to catch and summarily execute every one of the animals. This should continual until all of these hooligans are killed or choose a safer way to live with their neighbors. It is ridiculous to call these monkeys modern humans.

May 25, 2013 @ 8:41am
by DL

@paul, moni
can't you people solve a simple equation? religion (christianity, judaism, islam or in this case - believe in sorcery) are equally horrible and do cause crazy inhumane atrocities.

May 25, 2013 @ 8:44am
by Chuku

The point we should all focus on regarding this subject is that women are being tortured & killed in their hundreds & naught is being done to stop it & if single women were to be slapped across the face in the streets of New York you'll get over 100,000 people in support alongside a financial resource quite limitless for the purpose of prosecution this amounts to one reason "ones status".

May 25, 2013 @ 8:48am
by Mike

@Paul, they call them christians because most of the practices for prosecuting/punishing witches are based in the bible. You don't just get to say they aren't christians because they don't see it the same way you do. If anything, they are more christian than any peace-loving person ever could be. And that should give you pause when ascribing to a belief system. This is how christianity has been practiced for hundreds upon hundreds of years. So you don't just get to write them off. This kind of behavior is borne from the Christian faith.

May 25, 2013 @ 8:50am
by alan

Call yourself a Christian all you want but this evil that goes on is based on the so called holy book of the bible.Read your bible.It advocates this behaviour.
If you want to distance yourself from this evil behaviour then drop your religious belief and start acting like a moral human being instead of a religious sheep

May 25, 2013 @ 8:50am
by GleaD

To Paul

Are you familiar with logical fallacies, Paul? Here's a perfect example of the one you used in your post:

The crimes reported here "were not committed by truly redeemed followers of Jesus Christ. They only called themselves Christians, but were not living examples of the love of Jesus."

This fallacy is called No True Scotsman. Look it up. It's an argument using regress at its core strength. The target definition never stops moving.

Second, given the vague possibility that your jesus even existed, you might so a little more study in your holy book before you start making blanket claims about your religion.

jesus, if he existed, did not nullify The Law, as you modern christians love to point out.

May 25, 2013 @ 8:51am
by Daniel

I love the "not all Christians act this way" argument. The truth is it is the belief in something that is not at all real that causes this madness. And, not only that, these beliefs validates this madness as a sensible act. A "good Christian" may not partake in these acts and may say that those who call themselves as such are not themselves good Christians. But they see themselves as righteously guided as you see yourself.

May 25, 2013 @ 8:53am
by Aleister

Srsly? Sorry mate, but as long as any, and I mean, ANY of the outdated ghoststories are still revered and continue to lead people to not take control of their agency and how we treat others (because the others are/are not 'chosen' in some way) then this will continue. I understand that it sucks to get lumped in with others using the same name as an identifier, but there is a simple, underlying problem with all of the old stories... we were meant to grow out of them. We haven't and as such, this primitive form of hate for 'other(s)' or things we don't understand WILL continue... christians burned crosses on citizen's lawns in the USA (still to this day), they spew hate at funerals for veterans and those who do not believe in their ways, or live lives that these christians find offensive but in no meaningful way impact their lives or their ability to pursue happiness...

May 25, 2013 @ 8:55am
by Lucy

Moni, it amazes me the lengths some people will go to to preserve their ignorance.
Try researching the origins of christianity and the damage and disruption it caused (for example,) in ancient Rome, Europe - the dark ages... but as for present day christianity, it's a joke. Ever heard of the 'Creationist Museum'? and I'm talking tip of the iceberg stuff/personal gripes.
But of course not all christians are bad people, but you are ignorance enablers and often promoters.

Paul, the 'not a true christian' routine is tired. What makes you so sure that because someone does something distasteful or downright disturbing then they're not a true christian? Last I checked any old murdering, fabric mixing rapist can enter the kingdom of heaven if they confess their sins and repent.

May 25, 2013 @ 8:56am
by Richard

How long ago were "real christians" doing this in every corner of the world? and the only reason they're still not doing it is education, the more we debate morals and ethics the more obvious it becomes that morals and ethics have nothing to do with religion and those still clinging to the bible can justify almost anything from within its pages.

May 25, 2013 @ 8:59am
by DJ'

Weren't christians the ones who invented burning women at the stake?

Doesn't your shitty little bible tell christians not to suffer a witch to live?

(Exodus 20:18 - for the quote from their big book of idiocy)

May 25, 2013 @ 9:04am
by Miranto

"Not true christians". What a shameful and weak alibi. Any christian will tell you that any other sect or flavor of christianity is not true, including yours, I don't care what flavor you claim to be. Organized superstition, as christianity as a whole and religions in general are best described, are a painful sore in humanity's past and present. Fear-mongers, ignorance-mongers, we can only wish they would one day wake up and try to educate themselves.

May 25, 2013 @ 9:05am
by justin

Religions are just hate groups with fancy titles.

May 25, 2013 @ 9:09am
by Ellen

Paul, Christianity is the largest corrupt organization on the planet. It's demand for blind, unquestioning followers has allowed it as a whole to destroy other cultures, women's rights and the rights of gays, lesbians and anything else they deem as 'unchristian' The evil that has been performed by Christians is legendary and well documented. I only hope that down the road, we will look back on Christianity, -and other organized religions as well- and be thankful we are no longer this uncivilized.

May 25, 2013 @ 9:18am
by Cabiria

These people have about as much a grasp on true Christianity as they have on anything else in their pathetic lives. They are savages, with little chance of redemption without forced education and the rule of law. There is not enough being done by their own government to ensure they get an education. Left to their own devices, they torture each other.

May 25, 2013 @ 9:26am
by Suzanne

Horrifying Middle Ages stuff. Thank you for drawing attention to this very serious issue. How disturbing children are watching this, no doubt perpetuating a misery & superstition for years to come. This is about more than superstition, sorcery and religoun though. This is a violent society which desperately needs education, food, housing and technology.

May 25, 2013 @ 9:31am
by Angela Long

I see you have upset the Christians with writing on acts of other Christians, which they in turn deny are Christian... Amusing. Had this been on Muslims, it'd be offered up as proof to the evil of Islam. Of course saying that not all Muslims act this way wouldn't silence the claims of Islams evil nature. Or any other religious belief. Of course only real Christians know which are the real Christians. They have a bible filled with atrocities of killing other tribes and etc - yet deny modern atrocities.

Sadly this is the disease of religion.

May 25, 2013 @ 9:35am
by Phil

Charles is making the valid point that other religions, including Christianity, have acted in similar ways in the past. Education and enlightenment brought Europe out of these dark periods, and the same will hopefully one day be true for PNG.

May 25, 2013 @ 9:39am
by Brad

Not sure what Charles has said, and quite frankly I'm not reading it.

What I will say is that every christian i've met has been a hypocrite. Meaning they preach about not falling into sin and then do the same sin themselves on a daily basis, using the excuse of themselves being saved as amnesty for their own faults.

If that's what the bible teaches then I don't want any part of it.

May 25, 2013 @ 9:51am
by Henrique

This is journalism, the rest is gibberish.

It's a shame human rights doesn't extend as far as those places. Raising awareness is important so the relevant organizations can help protect and instruct the women by having more backers.

May 25, 2013 @ 9:53am
by Chris Bedell

Religion, which is extremely pervasive in the minds and hearts of believers and even sometimes non-believers is definitely at fault to a large degree for millions of atrocities worldwide. This is a provable fact. To say otherwise is to perform like the proverbial ostrich hiding it's head in the sand. It's utterly ineffective and incorrect in the extreme. But to blame an entire "faith" for the machinations of extremists and the ignorant and stupid is also illogical, pointless and incorrect. Superstition does not necessarily constitute belief. And visa versa. These people are caught in the grip of superstitious fear. Nothing more. So was The United States of America and still is to a degree since the founding of our nation. Fortunately, most of us are sensible somewhat logically decent human beings with an intrinsic respect for life and other peoples differences. Except for many Religious Conservatives. Which is quite evident. And while these atrocities are utterly horrific and tragic. It is by far not the worst we have seen out of humanity. Sad....but true. I am extremely dissapointed that this has not recieved more scrutiny in the media. But, I'm also not remotely surprised.

May 25, 2013 @ 9:56am
by Robin

Thank you for making me aware of this story. I want to help.

May 25, 2013 @ 9:56am
by N

As much as these women and victims need help and support I believe, unfortunately, that it will be the education of the next generations that will stop/prevent this. We think these heinous crimes which I believe they are. I question do the men who commit these actions really believe their accusations towards these women? Those of sorcery? Or are they just using this as fear mongering to control the masses and exert power? I have never been to any place like this so I respectfully have no idea...

May 25, 2013 @ 10:00am

AAAHH Religion/sorcery in all its manifold splendor. All the while western minin g companies are taking billionas out of the ground in PNG. Mark Twain described it acurately 150 yrs ago in his suppressed book "King Leopold's Mines" About Belgian colonialism in the Congo.

May 25, 2013 @ 10:09am
by andres

Historicaly, religions have always left women on the side, get over it.

May 25, 2013 @ 10:10am
by Randy

I blame the christians...and if you like Jesus the fraud!

May 25, 2013 @ 10:48am
by Justin

"Not all Christians acted that way?" You must not know your history. May I come in and tell you about your Lord and Savior.

May 25, 2013 @ 10:55am
by Maria

I don't believe the commenter above, Charles S., meant any harm to anyone on here. What he has pointed out is that.. there is a parallel between the atrocities in this article (above) that are arguably comparable to atrocities in history.
I think Charles S. is just saying there is a need for education to eradicate their beliefs that this sort of thing is NOT okay, and NOT something that should be propagated into the minds of children either.... the way that thousands of years ago, Christians (call them "bad Christians?" if it helps) learned.
(Richard W. seems to also have this conclusion)

May 25, 2013 @ 11:16am
by Mario Rodgers

Superstition. Religion. Bone throwing. Or rosary fondling. They are all contemptible to me and equally nonsense garbage.

May 25, 2013 @ 11:18am
by Don Mooney

why must the weak, poor & isolated people be made to be the scapegoats for society's woes, this is so ignorant & a disgrace, shame, more education & leadership from those in authority is the ONLY solution. PLUS punishment for those that abuse the rights of others.

May 25, 2013 @ 11:23am
by Reza

The locals are surrounded by Catholic priests and nuns. I wonder where they get the idea that women are the root of evil?

May 25, 2013 @ 11:30am
by Sarah

All Christians are that way sheep (Justin). Randy, Jesus is no fraud... real man, really thought he was the son of god. "Get over it" Andres?... really? Clearly someone who has been excluded from society and perhaps denied access between a woman's legs to offer such careless insensitivity.

May 25, 2013 @ 11:35am
by D

It is not true Christians that do this kind of violence. Jesus is not to blame it is the men that start these horrific events that are to blame, why blame God when he is not the one behind it. Name the truly evil one responsible for the defiling, Satan himself.

May 25, 2013 @ 11:35am
by carmen

appauling to hear that this occurs... perhaps all the women should just leave, leave, get away... i don't know how... but i's awful. I just send lots of love an blessings to those who can help and to those who have the power to help and do something. one step that start now is educate children, the young on what is right.... and so much more! I'm sorry this happens.

May 25, 2013 @ 11:36am
by Crystal

Women are not safe in this nation and Im wondering if the women if the world shouldn't seriously consider removing them from this nation completely and relocating them to some place else in the world. I can't see a reason to leave women in this country. The men here like so many places in the world are both amazingly uneducated and horribly cruel. Hopefully if women are removed, their culture will die off, they dont seem like they can be educated. I know this is cruel, but what they are doing is beyond human cruelty. Lets come up with a place that the women can be relocated to.. all of them and all of the little girls need to be removed immediately.

May 25, 2013 @ 11:40am

Religion, plain and simple. As evil here as it is there.

May 25, 2013 @ 11:44am
by Louise Thomas

They still practice cannibalism there.

May 25, 2013 @ 11:52am
by Dahloan Hembree

How awful, the UN needs to act, NOW

May 25, 2013 @ 12:07pm
by Susan

Authority must take control of these situations and these people needs to be educated. Stop being so blind in thou beliefs.

May 25, 2013 @ 12:28pm
by vezna

Misogyny is alive and well

May 25, 2013 @ 1:01pm
by Lisa

Breaks my heart, love and care about people too much to even look at the pics of the wounded and hurt

May 25, 2013 @ 1:11pm
by michelle

As a Canadian woman who spent several year living in Port Moresby as a child this story brought tears to my eyes. Even though I had a wonderful experience growing up there as a child I saw many terrible things in regards to how women there were treated. And as an ex-pat and a child I was very sheltered so what I saw was only the tip of the iceburg. It saddens me that such a beautiful country with such wonderful people could have such terrible problems. I hope very much that the people working to make changes end up having a positive effect.

May 25, 2013 @ 1:54pm
by Ditte Anne Hellemose

There's only one way to rid a people of bad cultural behavior.. Education!

May 25, 2013 @ 2:31pm
by Polli

I applaud and appreciate the work of Sister Gaudentia and women like her. Thank you for your gentle hearts and warrior ways but....we should not ignore the fact that the responsibility for this situation lies squarely on the shoulders of the church. It's a time honored method of the church to replace native religions by putting down the priests of the old ways and It is from the church that these people have gotten the idea to burn witches in the first place. Now these innocent women are paying the price. In Africa the pastors are actually at the forefront of the mobs and they're doing to children as well. It's time the church started to make reparation for this abomination. They should be actively reversing this damage by working directly with village elders to stop it continuing.

May 25, 2013 @ 2:58pm
by Asbjørn

It´s sickening.

May 25, 2013 @ 3:49pm
by Caroline G

This is horrible!! I agree with Ditte. These people need education!

May 25, 2013 @ 3:51pm
by carmen

Agree education is the most important effective to start NOW to reduce future growth in this concept.
This may well be a cause for all women in this country to get together get strong get some support and revolt in a peaceful way. The Ghandi way may be an option.

May 25, 2013 @ 3:58pm
by Inkspots

I agree that education is the answer to superstitious beliefs and behavior. But I can't for the life of me understand what gives people such an appetite for violence. These gangs are bands of sociopaths.

May 25, 2013 @ 4:03pm
by Someone

And how many of these witches flew off on their broom stick?

May 25, 2013 @ 4:35pm
by Besh

where's the USAID in new guinea, these people needs proper education otherwise they will eat eachother not so far from now

May 25, 2013 @ 4:46pm
by wong fook sing

I been to POM and Lae. The people need more exposures to development and I hope the country can keep progress. When the country progress, the people plays important role. Womens' roles will be essential to human development.

May 25, 2013 @ 5:28pm
by Luna

There has to be some way we can help. There has to be something I can do.
:( Does anyone have any information on it?

May 25, 2013 @ 6:10pm
by Jacob Riley

Harrowing, beyond belief and heartbreaking but vital that the world
hears of such atrocities.
Have wondered for some time about
work in human rights. The more articles
like this I come across, the more I am
persuaded of that train of thought.

May 25, 2013 @ 6:54pm
by Jacob Riley

Harrowing, beyond belief and heartbreaking but vital that the world
hears of such atrocities.
Have wondered for some time about
work in human rights. The more articles
like this I come across, the more I am
persuaded of that train of thought.

May 25, 2013 @ 6:54pm
by Claude Karnoouh

You are occidental oriented, colonisators... Custums are customs... Be happy sixty years ago tey were cannibals... eating their ennemies, after the battle, that is ti say men.. I would like to remember you that în some african cultures it is men who are hunted for sorcery... Don't forget that. Thses people are new in modernity, they have not invented brutal colonization, concentration and extermination lagers.... outside the archaical brutality, the neocolonial situation increases a new brutality, for exemple increasing protitution, and last but not least the domination of money they don't know before the colonisation....
I know your dreams... every body has to eat MacDonald and drink Coca-Cola....
Cl. Karnoouh Professor of Anthropology Paris-Bucharest

May 25, 2013 @ 10:06pm
by chenko

PNG is just victim of modern colonialism, their natural resources taken by the puppet government, and the native got nothing..they are just black human at Papua..the Queen doesnt give a like it or not!

May 25, 2013 @ 10:19pm
by Susan Macaulay

Weeping ;(

May 25, 2013 @ 10:24pm
by Kevin

That shotgun is fake

May 25, 2013 @ 11:09pm
by narcisa olorvida

very sad,because of the strong belief on witchcraft they make women hurt accussing them without proof

May 25, 2013 @ 11:22pm
by James


May 25, 2013 @ 11:42pm
by Kyle

Another great repression of humanity brought to you by religion,And the letter Y???

May 25, 2013 @ 11:59pm

Savagery and barbarism !!

May 26, 2013 @ 12:27am
by dani

I know this will sound ignorant, but I mean it sincerely - what can we do to help?

May 26, 2013 @ 1:23am
by Syd Nadim

Whilst the attempts of the priests ad nuns to intervene is admirable (and I must emphasize this), It's very hypocritical to tell a culture that *their* form of sorcery is not acceptable and that it should be replaced with *praying* - which is just another form of sorcery. Unless it doesn't work, of course. In which case it is as redundant as the belief in witchcraft. They should be teaching an evidence-based decision-making process over a faith-based one..

May 26, 2013 @ 1:32am
by Phillip Compyon

They will stand up and fight THe women of PNG have that right,Lets Help them Please !

May 26, 2013 @ 1:48am
by Phillip Compton

LEt Help these Women and people of PNG ! THats a crime against Humanity !

May 26, 2013 @ 1:49am
by Ehsan

this breaks my heart to see. So much human suffering around the world based on completely ridiculous reasons. It's difficult to keep your love for the human kind when the world seems to have gone full blown mad.

May 26, 2013 @ 2:25am
by Joanne

i am saddened by reading this. the photos and stories are heartbreaking. thank you for sharing

May 26, 2013 @ 2:42am
by Lovona farnsworth

Why are the people changing this I ask this is bullshit and so very sad

May 26, 2013 @ 2:47am
by Lovona farnsworth

This day in age and people are being treated this way it needs to stop men need to stop it and grow up.I am disgusted at the people that do it and to the people that watch and sit back and do nothing this is all so wrong

May 26, 2013 @ 2:50am
by Wenche Myrvang Tangen

I have taken an initiative to spread this story on Facebook here in Norway.........

May 26, 2013 @ 3:23am
by Anonymous

Who will be a Missioner to them?

May 26, 2013 @ 4:41am
by Amy

These people are in serious need of a true religion. They behave worse than animals, slowly roasting people to death is just inconceivable to me. May Allah guide them to Islam. Ameen.

May 26, 2013 @ 5:52am
by sipho

This is pathetic, despecable and inhuman. Women are human beings too. Let the world sanction this country and its leadership.They need to be excluded from the rest of the world until they adhere to human rights.

May 26, 2013 @ 8:40am
by Christopher kormano

This is religion. This is the ignorance that those who believe in a 'higher being' venerate.
This magical thinking is echoed in the screams of an innocent woman, burning in agony at the hands of the 'pious'.
People ask me why religion enrages me so much. I can't understand why they don't share my hate.

May 26, 2013 @ 9:23am
by sandra

Is there a fund for these women?

May 26, 2013 @ 10:01am
by atheistbob

I will say it until the whole world understands: Religion is NOT the answer, it is the PROBLEM.

May 26, 2013 @ 11:06am
by priscilla

omg were in the year 2013 how can be people out there so close minded GOD please help these people

May 26, 2013 @ 11:07am
by Liane

I couldn't bear to read the whole thing. Only one word resonated in my head: SICK SICK SICK

May 26, 2013 @ 4:16pm
by Tereasa Burley

I thought we had an educated culture world wide. I guess that I need to re-educate myself....

May 26, 2013 @ 9:50pm
by The Global Mail

To all those who've expressed a desire to help end "witch" burnings and other kinds of abuse against women in PNG, see Jo Chandler's follow-up story, "What To Do About Witchcraft".


May 26, 2013 @ 9:57pm
by Michael

absolutely sick and uneducated cavemen!!!

May 27, 2013 @ 1:35am
by Giuocco Piano

I have to wonder why, if these witches have such great power to do harm to others, that their accusers and torturers have no fear of retaliation. Surely with such power at the "witch's" command they should be able to thwart any effort by their accusers. Of course, the reason they don't is because they have no power. Why can't these people see this obvious falacy in their reasoning?

May 27, 2013 @ 2:30am
by Clare

Disgusting. When will people stop making up stories to suppress the weak? Absolutely disgusting.

May 27, 2013 @ 4:18am
by WM L.

We live in a world full of brutality and pain. Ignorance is a disease that must be eradicated just as aggressively any other insidious illness.

May 27, 2013 @ 5:02am
by Tom``

Ignorance with macho men does take a heavy toll.

May 27, 2013 @ 7:25am
by Kate Somerville

Go to all Facebook Papua New Guinea Facebook pages and write your comment.

May 27, 2013 @ 7:28am
by J Arthur

Richard Eves has got it wrong.
In Southern Africa, the Congo and many other places. Uneven modernity and the rise of uncertainty and social cohesion has led to huge surges in modern witchcraft suspicions, and attacks against witches. In the African context often by exactly the same demographic of disinfranchised young males attacking older predominately women and men. The PNG government and NGOs would do well to look at the efforts by the South African government in the Northen Province in education programs and investigations of the young men's motivations. Dr Niehaus found in his South African research that older men were directing the mobs for personal and political gain ( let's not throw that theory out here) . My African work also found a distinct and emerging witchcraft culture of a gender war, with an uncertain modernity, a surge of legal and illegal wealth and poverty disparity, absent fathers, bored and violent young men and no respect for women ( the particular genital mutiliation points to this pattern here too).
It's possible to change this situation but it needs coordinated and considered action backed by accurate research.

May 27, 2013 @ 7:41am
by Melanie

Why are men everywhere becoming more violent toward women? It is happening in every country, from the brutal rapes in India to the US...Why is there such brutal hatred toward women? In the US the religious seek to remove a woman's right to control her own reproduction, classifying rape as legitimate and not legitimate...What is happening to men?

May 27, 2013 @ 7:44am
by Melanie Ambriz

It is shameful that women, the sick, the elderly, and the weak are targeted and blamed for natural occurrences. These innocent victims are mutilated, tortured, and many times murdered for absolutely nothing. They are without protection, and with out rescue, once an angry mob, hopped up on drugs and alcohol attacks.
We as a country, need to intervene, in the interest of basic human rights. This is possibly the most disgraceful, and unforgivable thing I have read about as of late.

May 27, 2013 @ 7:46am
by Curtis

"by priscilla
omg were in the year 2013 how can be people out there so close minded GOD please help these people"

So believing in black magic and sorcery is closed-minded and archaic but believing in God isn't.... anyone else see why religion is bad yet?

May 27, 2013 @ 8:05am
by David Labor

There is also a lot of "witch" burnings in different parts of Africa. In some cases, they round up groups of children who are suspected of witchcraft/sorcery and burn them. Some missionary groups are behind convincing the people that the children are witches, but they aren't behind the burnings, so they say.

May 27, 2013 @ 8:12am
by Leon Lowry

I worked in Zambia last year for a while, they have some funny views.

May 27, 2013 @ 8:23am
by Russell

I spent a year and a half in PNG over 30 years ago and loved the country and it's people. I did notice a lot of superstition however this is a really disturbing report.

May 27, 2013 @ 8:25am
by Milly

Reading the comments, I'm glad at least someone brought up the Pagan Rights Alliance.
I've brought up this subject many times, but been rejected, mostly on the grounds of 'It's not BIG discrimination... not like the Native American's, or the Holocaust'. But Witch-Burning has been going on for centuries, and like the holocaust, it's happened to people- whether they're witches or not.
You cannot pick and choose which injustices you see as 'important', when there are people at risk, everywhere, and they need protecting.

May 27, 2013 @ 8:52am
by Kara

Seems more like a form of torture porn for these imbeciles.

May 27, 2013 @ 9:04am
by Susan

There needs to be a worldwide public outcry against this horror and petitions sent to the government. This is truly sick and the whole of Papua, New Guinea should suffer some consequence for allowing this peversity.

May 27, 2013 @ 9:35am
by J. Suwi

The witch related killing is happening right inside the towns and cities of PNG cities. Policemen & women in many caeses have never done their duties. They stand by watch the whole show as it unfolds. The government shoud address this head on - death pernalty must be imposed and such killers must face justice.

May 27, 2013 @ 9:51am
by Mark

“We come searching for monsters only to find out that the monsters were us.”

May 27, 2013 @ 9:52am
by kevin

this is very wrong and horrible.

May 27, 2013 @ 9:59am
by Louis Ursus

To all the libertarians who think that people should be free to do as they please, this is the kind of thing they do. To Mel Gibson and his ilk who think that life in small villages is paradise only to be spoiled by big government, this is what happens in small villages and towns. Ignorance thrives in the absence of civilization.

May 27, 2013 @ 10:03am
by J

Any group that does this to people should stopped and removed from the world that includes religions , governments, and organizations of any kind.

May 27, 2013 @ 11:08am
by sean

Nice Louis take a sad story and politicize it to some extremely exaggerated ends.

May 27, 2013 @ 12:06pm
by oldfoxbob

This is a result of religion. Worship of nonexistent gods and goddesses. Shame that it also falls in line with all religions. Including Christians.

May 27, 2013 @ 12:36pm
by Debra

Its a shame woman are so abused they have to call it abuse from being a witch many women are abused for NO REASON not because of anything they can look at you the wrong way or just because they may feel like it these poor woman may God have mercy on them. I was a battered wife for many years and they need no reaosn they look for reasons they enjoy being cruel and hurting others even their children it has no m atter if its government or a marriage to a relationship many men and woman are very aggrssive and they need no reason you could be the nicest human being on the planet they just need something to get off on VIOLENCE most of them are serial killers under neath all that horrible life that you may have ewndured thinking you had to stay for your children I would never on purpose ever allow a man like these into my life again.

May 27, 2013 @ 12:48pm
by moira walsh

This is heart breaking. UN; gov PPNG, and NGOs have to get involved.

May 27, 2013 @ 1:12pm
by Jaime Villamil

Only education can fix this

May 27, 2013 @ 3:25pm
by kathleen

all i could think of as i read a lot of this story sham sham on the government to let this go on. this is not good talk about being g behind time i do remember the story of witch craft here in america way back in time. we have learned i can only pray for the wrong that people have done to to-her and pray for god to help these woman . lord Jesus please hear my pray for these woman need you right now . aman

May 27, 2013 @ 6:36pm
by kira

girl, you pray for these women? don't you see the double moral in doing so? it is their reality, like jesus is yours! of course it's terrible in our eyes and in those of the victims, but still it´s their culture and religion and we are not at the place to criticise it. think about the western crimes like the colonialism in the Kongo. we have been and are much worse then they ever could be, and thats just because we are rich and always think we are right. so please try to think about your own reality, before you think about their.

May 27, 2013 @ 8:47pm
by Kathleen Akselrad

This is so sad. So sad. Society is crumbling. We are becoming beasts.

May 27, 2013 @ 10:10pm
by Mike

"it´s their culture and religion and we are not at the place to criticise it"

Yes, actually we are. These helpless old women aren't witches - this is simply a fact.

In terms of double standards, I would agree - Christianity isn't far removed from the incoherent idea of killing people for being witches. I don't have a lot of time for either mythology, but at least the major Christian churches aren't actively seeking out and killing people. Not anymore, anyway.

May 28, 2013 @ 12:21am
by Simon

What an atrocity, my heart goes out to the poor defenceless women. It may be old fashioned and colonialist to suggest it - but these barbaric people need to be dragged into the 21st century. yes we did used to do dreadful things to 'witches' in the past too but we don't do it now - common humanity dictates change. I'm not a fan of the catholic church but am full of admiration for the lone, brave nun who did her best to halt the savagery.

May 28, 2013 @ 12:34am
by Shenlong

Where are the Elders? in times past (Pre-colonial) we had men called Witch-Doctors who used prayers and sofourth to protect againts Witches, not violence.This has to be political, or religous. What resources are there in Papa New Guinea is the question we must ask.

May 28, 2013 @ 12:38am
by Julie

Kira - just because we have committed crimes doesn't mean we haven't learned from them. Though we may continue to make mistakes concerning foreign policy, as least our own people are not subject to witch hunts and torture with explicit consent from the other members of the societal group. What they are doing to these women is wrong, end of story. People with anger and hate are using these women (never men!) as outlets for their rage with zero proof of "wrongdoing" to justify their actions. And even if there WAS a just cause for punishment and retribution, it should be left to the authorities. No one deserves to have these horrors visited upon them, regardless of their crimes. The fact that these are notably defenseless women, some of them with young children, who are selected due to their lack of a powerful male connection is reprehensible and nauseating. If they believe in witchcraft that is fine. I am not trying to prevent people from having their own culture and beliefs. The point of the matter is that they have police and such systems for a reason - let these "witches" be brought to a fair trial and only punished when their "guilt" is proved.

May 28, 2013 @ 3:00am
by Maria Elisabeth

I do not believe this is a culture. Rape is not a culture or a religion. I believe this is a mentality of abuse, anger and power. Do the women in these pictures look happy and understanding. I see pain and confusion and despair. Yes, this is their lot in life and this is what they were born into but I consider them heros to show us how lucky we are in this part of the world. If we didn't know evil how would we know good? Even if it were their religion and culture, what is a prayer going to hurt? If we just send some love through prayer what will that not hurt? I am not rich and definately am not always right and not very religious but know we need more Grace, Compassion and Love for all humanity, in any part of the world and no matter what circumstances. But this is just what I believe, I am not pushing my believes on anyone.

May 28, 2013 @ 3:38am
by Melba Narberth

And Jared Diamond said these were the smartest people on Earth.

May 28, 2013 @ 6:24am
by james

"but still it´s their culture and religion and we are not at the place to criticise it??" EVEN IF "These men call their gang “Dirty Dons 585” and admit to rapes and armed robberies in the Port Moresby area. They say two-thirds of their victims are women. " AND “Even if they would want to stop the violence, they have little power today in the face of a village mob — particularly when many young men within the mob are affected by alcohol or drugs”. ON TOP OF "PNG’s police force is underpaid, under-resourced and under-trained. It’s also notoriously corrupt and abusive." ???????? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

May 28, 2013 @ 8:49am
by Ly de Angeles

Is there an action to stop this?

May 28, 2013 @ 1:34pm
by Junel Bulado

oh my God!
so disgusting!
i am crying now....
the government of each nation should compose a committee to protect women or any human to any kind of violation, and the UN should come in to this to solve the problem...

May 28, 2013 @ 10:12pm
by Joanna Yoder

It is gut wrenching. Horrific!! Thank you for allowing us to see glimpses of what is TRUTH for these woman. My heart feels broken for them. What can I do???????????????

May 29, 2013 @ 12:55am
by Joanna Yoder

Gut wrenching. Heartbreaking. Thank you for allowing us to see what is TRUTH for these women. My heart breaks. What can we do???????

May 29, 2013 @ 12:57am
by Olesea

Is there any organization, foundation, ONG or ANYONE who is helping them or trying to fix this...?! We should do something about this...

May 29, 2013 @ 12:49pm
by Mick Hansen

It is hard to hear that humans can behave that disgusting, I have thought about it an as much as I dislike to interfere with other people's believe I think a force of Legionnaire from all parts of the wold ( there is plenty of them ,who is unemployed) should be send to the area to strike at those who trespass so violent on the human right. A force of 100-200 should be able to make sure that those monsters vil turn on each other , rather than innocent. I have seen the French foreign legion enforcing LAW in remote places give them the job.

May 29, 2013 @ 1:51pm
by Valdoria

It is sad that everywhere we look, women are treated horribly and indecent attacks and torture. Oddly in america, women do this to themselves on purpose for attention, In other countries, they are stripped naked and treated as body parts to make them humble victims but in america, women choose to strip down and even place it in movies with the illusion they are empowered... but they are only fools with blinders on.

May 30, 2013 @ 2:35am
by Epidi

Brings to mind the Burning Times in Europe. Awful, awful, awful.

May 31, 2013 @ 7:58pm
by Kenji

This pisses me off but what can I do?

May 31, 2013 @ 10:02pm
by Gillian Jackson

May be the Big Companies, who are making huge profits, in these countries, could look here, to put money back into the country. So much money goes overseas to line the pockets of these companies and their million dollar directors. Lets hear from these companies.Tell us what you are doing to help these women . What % of your profits is going back to help these communities.

May 31, 2013 @ 11:23pm
by Sarah White

Those people really need to be christianized! What a pack of savages.

June 1, 2013 @ 7:01pm
by Cynic.

sure they're a pack of savages. Not like the rest of the world is much better. Burning a witch kills one innocent person. How many innocent lives do wars and murders take every year? Yeah. It sucks and needs to be changed, but nowhere is all that much different. Just that burning witches is 'so feudal age.' Nowadays we just shoot people and launch missiles at them.

June 2, 2013 @ 3:24pm
by Emily

Sarah White, you are seriously misled.

June 3, 2013 @ 12:45pm
by Nicolas

@ Sarah White - really??! Christianised? That's your answer? What the people need is education. They also need to have people stop 'raping' their lands where and leaving them with nothing as the British did many years ago to countless countries in the Far East and Africa, who coincidentally we Christian them (the Brits I mean). So were they any better than these savages?

June 3, 2013 @ 5:04pm
by Brian Stephens

How is there nothing that we can do.....what can we do?! I can't express myself

June 5, 2013 @ 2:49am
by Akai Koru

Yes let's help them by getting them to believe in a book that supports the existence of Witches. You can't use ignorance to fight ignorance.

June 6, 2013 @ 3:21pm
by Michelle

Thats how u can tell your brainwashed,,theyneed food , water, decent clothing, shelter, education , medicine.. I can.go.on and on. THE LAST THING THEY NEED IS RELIGIONNN FUKIN THINGS UP MORE

June 18, 2013 @ 3:14am
by Simple Minded

+1 Michelle , even +

June 22, 2013 @ 3:45am
by Jason

What they need is order, call it what you want, but people of all walks of life need to be taught to respect life. If they truly believe in magic and sorcery, then perhaps they need to be educated on how magic works, as they are bringing upon themselves unfathomable consequences. Evil begets evil, where as love begets love. All of their fear and desperation will only lead them to more fear and desperation. I do not subscribe to any one religion, however I do believe in teaching people how to love themselves and those around them, if that comes in the form of religion, than so be it........

June 22, 2013 @ 8:43am
by rosey pat

That is cruel just becuz they think doesn't mean they should act

June 29, 2013 @ 6:01pm
by shandah

this is a spiritual problem and needs to be resolved spiritually by change of heart, mind and soul and surrendering ones life to Jesus Christ. Many religion, cults and sects teaches respect for life and love for one another, however the complication and so called sophistication of todays world has tinted the once godly principles of life given to us by the creator himself (God). I can honestly say now that, the human race has evolve to a stage of self realisation and promotion of carnal affections, everyone now seem to have their own beliefs and values and the world provides lot of answers to every issues and problems in our society but not all solutions are working because, we are trying to solve problems relating back to the origins of creation. the original sin was a spiritual sin, when eve realised she can disobey God and still live. The world has never been the same since. We can talk about sympathy, peace, love, human rights, gender issues, violence against weaker sex, child protection etc etc, we will never eradicate the problem because it has its roots spiritually to the devil himself. The secular mind will say, let's draw up laws and legal decrees to protect this and protect that but we can't resolve deeply imbedded spiritual issues with physical and carnal paperwork. I am not saying, everyone can become a Christian and we can solve this problems. The choice to good and bad has always been in your hands. Everyone have free will to choose to live which ever way they want. Its the after death that we come to full realisation of our eternal destiny, for many its too late.

God in his great wisdom and might still provided a way through his Son Jesus Christ. Lets go back to God and believe and promote his LOVE for all people so to have that change in society.

July 3, 2013 @ 10:58am
by Runner


And God in his great wisdom has created a world full of suffering. A world in which said God is apparently unwilling to intervene because of some misguided sense of community spirit.

Well it seems to me these horrific acts are a result of Papua New Guinea's lack of sociocultural evolution due to external exploitation of the countries resources. Extreme poverty, huge cultural diversity & a lack of education have left them with nothing but old age superstitions.

You have your superstitions. The people of Papua New Guinea have theirs.

July 8, 2013 @ 7:04am
by Anonymous

How far does Religion go before people start to see its bullshit ? I'm not saying believing in something is a bad thing but when you believe in something so Shameless, Horrifying, and Gruesome when do you as your own person start to thank this is wrong. When do you push aside everything you ever believed in everything you were ever told and ever knew? My hart goes out to those women and Children who know one can save and it make My heart weep. I am 15 Some would say I'm just a child but this child know right from wrong. In this article it say that there are crowds of people Watching women and children get beaten raped and burned. A crowed of people . If I was in that crowd and I seen this act of terror I wouldn't be able to live with myself knowing I did nothing I just watched. I would like to tell them to fight back to leave go far away setup traps make weapons protect your own but I would have to imagine that this has already been tried I mean who actually just sits there and allows someone to kill you. I suppose my message would be just because it's a religion or something you believed in your whole life because that's what you're told maybe just maybe it's not worth dying for its not worth the pain and suffering of children women or men. Maybe your religion or your believes Are just bullshit I know not to believe everything my Religion says It doesn't mean I don't believe in a God angels Because I do but I don't believe that one man made a ship and took one of ever animal on it you got to call bullshit somewhere

July 13, 2013 @ 8:16am
by yke

i agree with shadah "its spiritual problem"

July 16, 2013 @ 8:27pm
by cecil ford

Its very sad seeing old women and women in average being exposed to such brutality, all in the name of suspected sorcery and witchcraft. i recently saw a video of an accused witch being burnt and gosh, there were on-lookers watching with yearning evil. i wonder if those people have mothers and i wonder again what they think will be done to them as well in their old age. Blaming others for their failures whilst they lazy around doing nothing with their lives than believe in some cock and bull superstition. When they are defenceless. Seeing these pictures, i just cant stop the tears rolling down my cheeks. i love old women and i really enjoy being around them, they are full of wisdom in every action and word they speak. Being able to take care of them makes me feel so fulfilled as a person. i feel blessed in their midst and i wonder why others feel threatened by their existence. God's ways are not our ways, but this goes beyond sitting back for God's intervention. Whilst alot more women cry for their innocent lives every single day somewhere in the world. Something needs to be done.

July 20, 2013 @ 12:48am
by Peter de Jäger

Christianity is based on the turture and crucifiction to death of a man called Jesus of Nazareth. It is a myth of salvation from all evil still central in the main religion of the western culture. One can see his tortured body hanging with a few nails on a piece of wood everywhere where Christians live. Even the president of the most mighty country in the world believes in this horrible myth. Are the people watching the torture of a witch so far away from the congregation gathered under the cross?
Lets believe in humanity and ban the evil myths which lives in our culture.

July 20, 2013 @ 1:36pm
by Nazy

This is just awful and we all need to help stop this terrible attack in people by evil drug crazed men. Again and again men attack women in this world , so men have to stop it.... All men of all ages and culture, shame on you if you do not act... This has to stop!

July 20, 2013 @ 8:59pm
by Molina

This is truly horrible!!

July 20, 2013 @ 9:37pm
by Klaus

Avaaz please act asap!!!

July 21, 2013 @ 6:00pm
by Sylvia

Lack of knowledge, could lead to brutality behavior

July 21, 2013 @ 11:23pm
by Toby

This is a horrific story but unfortunately not surprising, PNG has a very diverse and long history of supernatural beliefs, so combine that with rapidly changing social structure, isolated communities, high expectations and high unemployment and you're bound to end up with conflicts. PNG has to abandon the Sorcery Act now with a very public announcement and boost its police force (with lots of those young, unemployed people?) Praise to the work of the volunteers, but they're only a few people in a huge country - it's up to us to spread the word and put pressure on the PNG government to act!

July 22, 2013 @ 5:08am
by Merdella Chippewa

As long as I have been walking upon Mother Earth, i have encountered abuse of women and girls on many levels of extreme. Including my own nightmare experiences. Women are sacred. They are life carrying and life bearing individuals and deserve respect all over the world. Yet, incidents such as this are horrific reminders of the agony women live through. Hardships, bearing children, nursing them, protecting them from the barbaric behaviors of cruel cold-blooded men. What does one do? How do we protect them and change their pathways to a better life? I encourage prayer to the Creator. The Creator hears the cries of women.

July 22, 2013 @ 12:17pm
by norene starr

This is what true ignorance can cause! Damn get educated!!!! I am soo freaking angry that the un has not stepped up or even thier own gov't and they should be cut off all funding from the us until they change thier laws

July 23, 2013 @ 2:13pm
by Rob Miller

Horrendous ... and Australia will add to PNG's burden by sending the unwanted asylum seekers here?

July 23, 2013 @ 2:40pm
by Ilone

I thought the same thing Rob, just horrendous

July 23, 2013 @ 10:22pm
by mark deville

I am sickened but what do you expect from such a corrupt people they are just animals to do that to young women

July 24, 2013 @ 1:16am
by mofterfloker

these men say they have a home made gun that dosent work and no woman
and just a few viens left and some other stuff they got ripped of for

July 24, 2013 @ 2:29pm
by Cantbearsed

And we are expected to donate hard earned cash to Third World Countries. I will NEVER do this as long as I see grinning gun wielding thugs/morons call them what you will in every other 'give us your money' propaganda film we see coming from these so called needy areas.
If they got off their backsides and fought for a better life instead of persisting with outdated 'mumbo jumbo' maybe then I would have more respect for these peoples.

July 24, 2013 @ 10:09pm
by Loremaster

Mark Deville you must have forgotten your history for not to long ago such things happened right here in America....

July 24, 2013 @ 11:43pm
by benzy

sick people

July 25, 2013 @ 3:59am
by Karma

Karma will attack harder--to disrespect the elder women--who have birthed your sorry a**es. Karma will get you soon...

July 25, 2013 @ 3:52pm
by Greengardener

We are at a crossroads again and again on this issue of attacking and blaming women.
Historic evidence shows that mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, sisters, daughters and womenkind must be respected and appreciated for communities to thrive. We live in a world in which "life" of all kind is under-appreciated and desecrated. The violence oft stems from inability of a community to flourish, based often in greedy control of a few over the many. This attack on women is occuring everywhere in the world and is inexcusable.
Respect for women (and all things) must be taught and learned to counter the mysoginistic teachings that are common place in our largely patriarcal and patrilineal world. Look to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois)who as an example teach their young to respect their women AND their elders. There is an "Honor the women" song and dance to celebrate womenkind. There is also a healing needed for these women who have been so maligned that women perform to empower her. The men who do this lose the health of their spirit until or unless they have atoned for their actions.

July 29, 2013 @ 1:48am
by Harry T

Our Prime Minister of Australia is aware of all this,yet he sends the boat people there,the boat people will be blamed for every thing that is about to go wrong in that country that is already suffering financial hardship. That will no longer be Australia's concern. Rudd thinks after he wins the election he will be able to fix it,but by then, lives would have been lost,this would be just collateral damage,that is the price to win the an election. We all know that the politicians of Papua New Guinea is known for corruption,the money we are paying this Govt will not go towards the people of PNG.

July 30, 2013 @ 10:29am
by GRit Schmitz

C'est absolument terrifiant

August 7, 2013 @ 2:05pm
by sally dingo

I have lived in the highlands of PNG only a few years ago and love it and its people with all my heart, this article is important but I felt after reading it that it could create racism. It does not discuss the wonderful open and goodness of many many men there. It paints the whole country as a place to be deeply feared. It is a complex issue that involves education, my job was to educate through theatre on such issues. When someone doesn't understand scientifically how things happen they blame the closest thing to vent their anger, this happens all over the world, not just PNG. I am a woman and I do not condone violence to anyone but I do believe in grass roots education and that wanting these men dead or locked up like animals is also cruel and barbaric. The title of this article really annoys me and I feel it could create racism against one of the last countries to remain living on the earth unlike the rest of us creating mayhem to millions of plan and animal species with our consumer lifestyles.

August 9, 2013 @ 5:05pm
by Chethana

Ms. Dingo,

If you read the article carefully, you will notice the authors mentioned men concerned about this as well (Eg: concerned policeman and man that told mobs to stop looking for people to accuse).

Secondly, I am sure that the culture in the highlands of PNG has many wonderful aspects to it but that does not mean that cruel and inhumane behavior towards these women should be ignored. This article does not paint the people of PNG in a racist light but rather explains a horrendous issue that needs to be addressed.

Finally - As for locking up these men- do you think that locking up murderers and torturers in the western world is cruel and barbaric? Or just in PNG?

August 25, 2013 @ 6:25am
by Christopher Blackwell

Witch hunts are still a world wide plague in a great many countries. A Swedish study estimated between 1950 to now that at least 70,000 people have been killed as alleged witches. Like the witch hunts of old in Europe, not a single one was a witch and they only killed 50,000 in three hundred years. So it has never stopped and is actual more of a problem today in Africa, India South East Asia, the Islands, South America and elsewhere. In Africa they even accuse children of being witches and kill them. So the question is how much longer do we ignore this ancient crime of with hunts and killings of alleged witches.

August 28, 2013 @ 1:33am
by Ty

Such ignorance..where are the Christian missionaries stopping this sort of hatred...rather than blaming gays for everything/ This is horrendous.

September 11, 2013 @ 6:51am
by Daniel

@Ty. What kind of drugs or fantasy world do you live in? Blaming gays for everything? You are using the wrong title to label a group of hateful people. The ignorance that you ooze is the foulest. Why don't you go help? Instead of commenting on some lame website. You may think as to how I got here>>>> Facebook link.

September 29, 2013 @ 8:11am
by MB

@TyChristian missionaries, whose the ignorant one here? @Daniel I agree 110%

October 18, 2013 @ 8:41am
by aQela

ignorance......may they go to hell and they will ..assholes, savages!!!!

November 4, 2013 @ 2:23pm
by Kenny

Let just pray for them and that the Lord provide them a miracle.

November 15, 2013 @ 11:26am
by milmo

I think the "Lord" has done quite enough....

November 24, 2013 @ 4:52am
by Luke

@milmo: That was a very close-minded reply now wasn't it?

November 25, 2013 @ 7:17pm
Show previous 371 comments
by mpg

Funny people dismess them as savages that'll goto hell. But didnt all good Christian and God-fearing people believe this at one time? I'm sure the generations of the future will look back on us as savage money-worshippers and soul sellers.

November 25, 2013 @ 9:02pm
by fathima

I think long long years and centuries ago in many places in the world this used to be a common thing. The real Islam practiced by many of the worlds Muslims (not the small minority of Muslims whose abuses and extremities are so highlighted,) know of the way the Holy Prophet changed all these tribal customs and gave women a proper place to the extent where they had the right even to inherit property and this was 1500 years ago.

January 7, 2014 @ 5:36pm
by Martin

@fathima Islam is if anything at least as savage, if not more, than Christianity. Both being based on, and fueled by ignorance and fear though.

January 22, 2014 @ 7:13am
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