20 Jun 2003

Concerns about growth of sorcery in Papua New Guinea

10:43 am on 20 June 2003

Papua New Guinea's Minister of Social Welfare Lady Carol Kidu wants overseas backing for research into a resurgence of sorcery, which has sparked a number of recent deaths.

She says belief in sorcery has always been strong in some parts of the country, but it in one Highlands area it is developing in a disturbing way.

Lady Carol says two doctors are awaiting funding to begin investigation into why there is an increase in accusations of sorcery and why some people, mostly young men, are reacting in a new violent way.

Lady Carol says women accused of sorcery are being beaten and killed by these young men who often do not properly understand their tribal custom.

She says many of the attacks result from demands for explanations of natural deaths.

"One case the doctors told me about, of a man who died of a brain tumour resulted in accusations of sorcery and as a result seven people were killed in the village. So his death which was actually a natural death, wasn't really very understandable."