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Sunday 25 September 2016

Woman axed to death in Papua New Guinea over witchcraft claims

Published 23/05/2015 | 14:24

Sorcery claims against women are continue to be widespread in Papua New Guinea
Sorcery claims against women are continue to be widespread in Papua New Guinea

A mob in Papua New Guinea has hacked to death a woman accused of being a witch.

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In a brutal attack, a group of men cornered the victim and attacked her with hand axes and machetes.

The woman, named as Misila, was one of three saved last year by missionaries and police after angry villagers accused them of practising sorcery.

Lutheran missionary Anton Lutz said the woman was murdered after a measles epidemic that killed several people in Enga province last year was blamed on witchcraft.

“What we're hearing is that on Monday about 10 men came and axed her while she was with her family,” he said.

"Her family is not seeking to retaliate against this group that came and killed her… hoping that the police will be able to apprehend them.”

New laws in Papua New Guinea mean now that any ‘black magic killing’ is treated as murder and punishable by death.

However despite the reforms, the belief in sorcery continues to spread and there has been increasing reports of violence against women in many remote parts of the country, Mr Lutz.

“How can these communities, that has no phone access, no road access, limited airstrip access and really no radio access ... defend themselves against a stronger group of people that wants to murder them one by one,” he said.

“It's a very specific ancestral belief that this group has about all sickness and death being the result of these spirit beings that live inside of mostly women and their children.”

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