Last month in Papua New guinea the government repealed a 42 year old sorcery act that enabled people to use black magic as a reason to kill someone. The law was repealed as a reaction to a series of attacks on women who were kidnapped, tortured and sometimes beheaded in a new wave of violence that some believe is caused by the countries booming mining economy.
Papua New guinea, just off the north coast of Australia boasts some of the most diverse wildlife in the world, a terrain both impenetrable and rich in natural resources. Due to it’s isolation PNG has maintained strong ties with its past, traditions such as sorcery are still being practiced. Even recently cannibalism has reappeared when police arrested 29 people from a PNG cult who’d killed and eaten the brains of their victims.
Now with the western world making a play for their natural resources, a changing landscape has brought a different kind of problem, the Haves against the Have-nots.
In some parts of the country superstition and black magic ( or Sanguma ) are still widely believed to be real, people bury their relations in concrete vaults to avoid demon possession, while witch doctors are commonly used to divine whether a tribe member is possessed by a demon or just sick. lately with attacks increasing; in January a woman was killed and burnt in front of a crowd of hundreds, before that a group of girls were tortured with hot irons during Easter and a forty year old school teacher was kidnapped then beheaded, the police have drawn the conclusion that many of the attacks are motivated by wealth. The poor using the cover of evil sorcery to do away with richer enemies.
As an answer to the problem the government has repealed the sorcery law and reinstated the death penalty as a deterrent to those who’d use the old law. But considering how deep tradition goes in PNG the new laws appear to be a stop gap measure at best.
sources: Time, Yahoo news.
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