Papua New Guinea woman burned alive for sorcery

A young mother accused of sorcery was stripped naked and burned alive in front of a crowd.

A woman in Papua New Guinea was stripped naked and burned alive after being accused of sorcery.

According to UPI, the relatives of a six-year-old boy who died in Papua New Guinea tortured and burned the woman to death because they believed she had used sorcery to kill the boy.

The incident took place Wednesday in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea's third-largest city.

Papua New Guinea's The National reported Thursday that the boy had been taken to Mount Hagen hospital Tuesday after complaining of stomach and chest pains. He died at the hospital.

The boy's family accused three women of using sorcery to kill the boy. One of them, Kepari Leniata, 20, admitted she was responsible.

The relatives reportedly tortured Leniata with a branding iron, stripped her naked, tied her hands and feet with rope and threw her onto a pile of burning car tires and rubbish in front of a crowd that included schoolchildren, The National reported.

Although paramedics responded to the scene, they were unable to save Leniata, who has a 8-month-old daughter.

The Papua New Guinea Post-Courier reported that the sorcery-related murder took place in full view of hundreds of onlookers. "The torture and brutal murder of a mother of two provided a photo opportunity for many of the onlookers, including school children, who crowded around and took photos of the woman being consumed alive by the fire," said the newspaper, which published a photo of the incident.

Woman burned alive: A photo taken Wednesday shows a young mother accused of sorcery who was stripped naked, reportedly tortured with a branding iron, tied up, splashed with fuel and set alight on a pile of rubbish topped with car tyres, in Mount Hagen city in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. IMAGEGetty Images: AFP

The newspaper also reported that although firemen rushed to the scene, angry perpetrators chased them away. Several policemen present at the scene were unable to save the women because they were outnumbered by the perpetrators and their supporters.

The lives of the two other women accused of sorcery were spared.

Papua New Guinea police are planning to file murder charges against those responsible.

''People believe it's (sorcery) something that exists, but it's a crime. People will have to be arrested,” said Papua New Guinea police spokesman Dominic Kakas, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“As long as people believe in sorcery and they will tend to take violent action in relation to that, we will still have such killings in relation to that. That is why the commissioner is concerned, and he wants everyone to sit down and put their heads together and find a way to address this issue so that we can end or stop such senseless killings.”

The incident was condemned by David Piso, the head bishop of Gut Nius Lutheran Church.

"Sorcery and sorcery-related killings are growing and the government needs to come up with a law to stop such practice," Piso said.

An Oxfam research project concludes that legal reform and education are essential to reduce the damaging effects of sorcery beliefs in Papua New Guinea.

The Oxfam report says that many people in Papua New Guinea don't want to accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune, illness, accidents or death, instead attributing them to supernatural causes called sorcery or black magic.

An excerpt from the report says: "Belief in black magic is so ingrained the government recognizes it under the 1971 Sorcery Act. This punishes those practicing black magic with up to two years' imprisonment. Murderers can reduce penal sentences by alleging black magic was involved."

People believed to have committed black magic have been subject to shocking "payback" murders, torture or punishments. The report says that women, widows without male kin, elderly people and independent and progressive women are often victims of sorcery accusations and attacks.

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