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Startseite Urgent Actions 2013 04 Fears for women accused of «sorcery»
UA 090/13
Papua New Guinea
Abgeschlossen am 3. Mai 2013

Fears for women accused of «sorcery»

AI-Index: ASA 34/001/2013

A seriously injured woman and her two daughters are being held in Papua New Guinea by a group that accuses them of practising «sorcery». There are grave fears for their safety following the beheading of a woman last week after she was also accused of «sorcery» . The response from the police has so far been seriously inadequate.

The woman has serious injuries with a severe laceration to her neck after being attacked on or around 2 April 2013, according to sources in the country. The three women are being prevented from leaving Lopele, Bana District, Southern Bougainville, to seek essential medical care after locals set up road blocks. They are now being held at a basic medical clinic by members of the community that accuse them of practising «sorcery» . The police response so far has been to send a single officer to Lopele to negotiate the release of these women.

On or around 4 April, woman’s rights activist and school teacher Helen Rumbali was beheaded in front of community members after she was also accused of «sorcery» . Police were present at the incident but reported that they were unable to intervene due to the hostility of the crowd.

In March, Papua New Guinea’s Constitutional and Law Reform Commission called on the government to repeal the Sorcery Act 1971, which currently reduces the sentences for those that have assaulted or murdered someone they accused of sorcery.

Additional Information

These incidents are the latest in a series of attacks against people accused of ‘”sorcery” in Papua New Guinea, which in most cases have resulted in women being murdered. Earlier this month, there were reports of six women and one man being abused with hot metal rods, after a community made similar accusations against them. The man managed to escape while the fate of the six women is unknown.

In February, 20-year-old Kepari Leniata was stripped, tied up, doused in petrol and burned alive by relatives of a young boy she was accused of using witchcraft to kill. Two people were charged as a result of this incident.

The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women has noted that women, particularly widows or women without family to protect them, are disproportionately affected by «sorcery» -related violence in Papau New Guinea.

Name: Helen Rumbali, three unnamed women

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