The people responsible for burning a young woman alive in a Papua New Guinea town after she was accused of sorcery will be caught and punished, police say. Kepari Leniata, 20, was stripped, tortured, bound, doused in petrol and set on fire on a rubbish heap in the Western Highlands town of Mount Hagen on Wednesday.
Police said she was accused of sorcery by relatives of a boy, 6, who died in Mount Hagen’s hospital the day before. ”People believe it’s something that exists, but it’s a crime,” PNG police spokesman Dominic Kakas said. ”People will have to be arrested.” Both of PNG’s national newspapers carried the story on their front pages with a picture of a burning mass on a rubbish heap surrounded by onlookers, including children.
The UN’s special rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, in March last year made a savage assessment of the treatment of women in PNG, saying sorcery allegations were usually used as a way of depriving women of land and property, while misfortune or death were used as a reason for the accusation.