Sorcery study: More males reported killed

More males were reported killed in sorcery-related violence in PNG than females.

This finding, from a researched conducted over 20 years, was presented yesterday during a public forum at the National Museum and Art Gallery in Port Moresby.

Researchers Dr Fiona Hukula (National Research Institute) and Dr Miranda Forsyth (Australian National University) pointed out that in the majority of reported incidents, there were multiple victims and extreme violence was often involved.

But females and males were often harmed differently, with females more likely to be burnt and be raped.

Usually, large groups of people were reported as perpetrators and witnesses.

During the 20-year period, an approximate estimate suggest that there were at least 15,000 perpetrators, witnesses and supporters of sorcery accusation related violence (SARV).

Where it was known, victims and perpetrators were most likely to come from the same village.

The researchers also went on to state their findings that police were reported as having intervened in only 13 percent of incidents and charges were laid against at least one suspect in one quarter of the incidents; most commonly for murder or wilful murder.

15 percent of incidents saw a trial of at least one suspect and most were convicted and received long prison sentences.

Where there were large numbers of reported incidents, it was apparent that the criminal justice struggled to arrest and prosecute suspects.

Further research findings also reveal that very little was reported on rescues and victim support although data does suggest that police, villagers and churches have been doing this more in recent years.

Data also shows an upward trend in reported SARV incidents that peaked in 2011 and has declined slightly since then.

Higher rates of victimisation were reported for certain provinces, such as Chimbu, Eastern Highlands and Morobe.

Dr Hukula and Dr Forsyth say the newspaper is only the beginning, with a lot more data yet to be collected which will help researchers understand what leads to violence and how it can be prevented.

(Researchers Dr Miranda Forsyth, ANU, and Dr Fiona Hukula from NRI)

Related article:

Findings on sorcery-related violence released

Annette Kora