Accused 'Witch' Kepari Leniata Burned Alive By Mob In Papua New Guinea (GRAPHIC PHOTO)
The Huffington Post | By Meredith Bennett-Smith Posted: 02/07/2013 4:46 pm EST | Updated: 02/08/2013 11:50 am EST
A young mother was burned alive in Papua New Guinea this week after townspeople accused her of being a witch.
According to multiple reports, Kepari Leniata, 20, was tortured and killed in front of a mob of hundreds in the town of Mount Hagen. The woman, stripped naked and covered in gasoline, was burned alive on a pile of trash by relatives of a young boy who had died earlier in the week. The relatives had accused Leniata of killing him with sorcery.
WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTO FOLLOWS
Police and firefighters who tried to save Leniata were chased away by an overwhelming crowd. Agence France-Press writes that the woman "admitted to killing the boy, who died after being [hospitalized] with stomach and chest pains on Tuesday."
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A photo taken on Feb. 6 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. According to the Post-Courier newspaper she was torched by villagers who claimed she killed a 6-year-old boy through sorcery, with police outnumbered by onlookers and unable to intervene. (AFP / Getty Images)
According to the BBC, police chief Supt Kaiglo Ambane told local media that those responsible for Leniata's murder would be brought to justice.
The U.S. Embassy and Australia's high commissioner have condemned the murder. In a statement featured in a report by the Australian Associated Press, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said that "no one commits such a despicable act."
"Barbaric killings connected with alleged sorcery. Violence against women because of this belief that sorcery kills," O'Neill said, according to the AAP. "These are becoming all too common in certain parts of the country. 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."
AFP notes that many people in the island nation believe in sorcery rather than accept natural causes of death. While the 1971 Sorcery Act technically outlaws the burning of alleged witches, the practice persists. In 2009, another woman was burned alive for alleged sorcery, the news outlet points out.
In a 2009 blog for The Huffington Post, Zama Coursen-Neff, the director of Human Rights Watch's Children's Rights Division, said that that this incident and other similar killings have become indicative a larger, more troubling trend.
In Papua New Guinea, research indicates, two-thirds of women experience domestic violence, and 50 percent of women have experienced forced sex. The Australian development agency AUSAID just issued a new report identifying violence against women as a major barrier to Papua New Guinea's development
New Guinea woman tortured, burned alive in ‘sorcery' caseBy Agence France-Presse
Thursday, February 7, 2013 7:24 EST
A young mother accused of sorcery was stripped naked, doused with petrol and burned alive in front of a crowd including schoolchildren in Papua New Guinea, reports said on Thursday.
The woman, named by The National newspaper as Kepari Leniata, 20, was reportedly tortured with a branding iron and tied up, splashed with fuel and set alight on a pile of rubbish topped with car tyres.
According to the rival Post-Courier newspaper she was torched by villagers who claimed she killed a six-year-old boy through sorcery, with police outnumbered by onlookers and unable to intervene.
A fire truck that responded to the incident, which took place on Wednesday morning in Mount Hagen city in the Western Highlands, was also chased away.
According to the reports, which were accompanied by graphic front-page images of the woman's burning corpse, she admitted to killing the boy, who died after being hospitalised with stomach and chest pains on Tuesday.
Police said they were treating the torching as murder and preparing charges against those responsible.
There is a widespread belief in sorcery in the poverty-stricken Pacific nation where many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune, illness, accidents or death.
In 1971, the country introduced a Sorcery Act to criminalise the practice. But PNG's law reform commission recently proposed to repeal it after a rise in attacks on people thought to practise black magic.
Local bishop David Piso said many innocent people had been killed.
"Sorcery and sorcery-related killings are growing and the government needs to come up with a law to stop such practice," Piso told The National.
The US embassy in the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby issued a statement strongly condemning the "brutal murder" of Leniata, who had an eight-month-old daughter, as evidence of "pervasive gender-based violence".
"We add our voice to those of Papua New Guinean religious and civil society leaders who have spoken out against the brutality inflicted upon Ms Leniata," the embassy said.
"There is no possible justification for this sort of violence. We hope that appropriate resources are devoted to identifying, prosecuting, and punishing those responsible for Ms Leniata's murder."
Police arrested dozens of people last year linked to an alleged cannibal cult accused of killing at least seven people, eating their brains raw and making soup from their penises.
There have been several other cases of witchcraft and cannibalism in PNG in recent years, with a man reportedly found eating his screaming, newborn son during a sorcery initiation ceremony in 2011.
In 2009, a young woman was stripped naked, gagged and burnt alive at the stake, also in Mount Hagen, in what was said to be a sorcery-related crime
by gammieFebruary 8, 2013 at 7:51 PMWhy don't women fight back?