“Stop Sorcery Violence” wants to highlight the work of those local women and men that are taking a stand against sorcery and witchcraft accusations, providing assistance to victims and survivors and advocating for a positive change.
The belief in sorcery and witchcraft in Papua New Guinea is widely spread and has an important weight in most of the spheres of public and private life. According to a research carried out by Oxfam in 2009, most of the population of PNG does not accept natural causes in case of illness or death of relatives and friends. The belief that sorcerers and witches have deliberately used their supernatural powers in order to harm other people is a common conviction and, the relatives of the victims adopt retaliation measures against the supposed witches, such as murder, torture, destruction of their property or exile. Police reports present cases of victims that have been buried alive, beheaded, pushed from high cliffs, electrocuted, forced to drink petroleum, stoned to death and shot.
Before the publicized deaths of Kepari Leniata and Helen Rumbali at the beginning of 2013, much research had already been done in “sanguma” (witchcraft) and the violence arising from sanguma accusations. However, after these horrific killings showed to the World through the social networks, the international community turned its focus towards PNG and urged the government of the Pacific country to take immediate action. These two murders also triggered the rise on the media discourse focusing on witchcraft and sorcery related violence. Across the world, the name of PNG was associated to scenes of extreme violence, accompanied by sensationalist headings that strongly blamed and criminalized Papua New Guinea’s culture.
What will you find here
“Stop Sorcery Violence” has a constructive perspective; focusing on the solutions undertaken by local activists to overcome witchcraft and sorcery accusations related violence.
In order to achieve this, a series of films will capture the solutions and actions recommended by these local stakeholders, trying to reflect as much as possible the voices of the people from Papua New Guinea and proposing a hopeful way forward. Many actions to overcome the issue of sorcery and witchcraft accusations and their related violence are already being taken, but they do not have much space in the media. “Save the Witch” wants to create this space by publicizing these actions with the objective to raise gender awareness, enhance the genuine voice of the local stakeholders and contribute to strengthen their network.
Now it’s the time!
In front of an unbalanced perspective, there was an imperative need for a fair representative discourse that analyzed the issue in a much deeper way, leaving aside the superficial impressions and trying to reflect the voices of the local stakeholders. It was time to show how Papua New Guineans are also active agents and it was time for the world to approach and explore reality as the locals see it and experience it, leaving aside easy made judgmental Western perceptions.
If you want to know more, just keep an eye on our website!