Very few resources for victims of sorcery related violence | Pacific Beat

Very few resources for victims of sorcery related violence

Very few resources for victims of sorcery related violence

Updated 7 June 2013, 16:53 AEST

Delegates at the conference have included several Human Rights Defenders from the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

The women often risk their own security to help the victims of the crisis in often very isolated regions.

One of them is Lilly and Karen Barlow asked her about her experience.

Presenter: Karen Barlow

Speaker: Lilly a Human Rights Defender from the highlands of Papua New Guinea

LILLY: I have been reaching out to help other women and families who have been accused of being sorcerers, and they've been victimised, between tortured and to some extent they've been killed. And those reports that we hear from the media it is those that get reported, but a lot is happening and it never gets reported.
BARLOW: So how bad does it get and how big is the problem?
LILLY: The problem is getting out of hand, I think it is becoming more frequent now. I think there's a lot of hidden triggers to that, I think it is going to get out of hand if it is not properly addressed.
BARLOW: So when you say there's all these instances which aren't reported, what really don't we know?
LILLY: Violence related to sorcery cases people don't talk about it, it's like a distress to the community, it is believed that it's so ingrained that people believe that this sorcery exists, and those people whom they are tortured for sorcerers, they don't talk out, they don't talk about it. Everybody keeps quiet.
BARLOW: So we have been hearing at the conference from the United Nations that customary practices is no excuse when it comes down to torture and killing someone, that this is a human rights violation. What do you think about that?
LILLY: I totally agree with that that those people who have no rights to take the rights of the others, and especially the women, they are biologically weaker members of the community and they're taking that on the women. How the women have been targeted is different to the men, and the way the women have been targeted it's really like with a proper sense of mind they cannot do that, the way they're being tortured, the way they've been stripped naked, they're using them, burning them and then inserting into their bodies, and the way they're killing them, like pouring petrol over the body or on top of tires and burning them alive, there is no excuse for that, it is wilful murder.
BARLOW: It sounds inhuman?
LILLY: It's totally inhuman and it's a wilful murder. It's something that people have developed and they use it as an excuse as a custom, but we refer back as we know that I think there may be some but I never heard of my father telling me that people have been tortured that way, have been killed that way, have been murdered that way.
BARLOW: And the support for victims, we're hearing that there's not that many safe houses, that people are still in trouble even if they are seeking help. What is it really like out there on the ground?
LILLY: The victims they really need specialised support, they're traumatised, the children are traumatised and they need special funding, they need a proper place where they can be housed, accommodated, be fed and they need proper medical attention as well. And in the province where I work there are hospitals there but they also charge people, and vulnerable women it's really difficult to access. But sometimes they do attempt, but not in a way if they need additional special care, simply that is something that we need to look into.
BARLOW: And the courts, I mean we're hearing that there's not many prosecutions anyway, but when it goes to court do they get it?
LILLY: I think in most sorcery cases they don't come to the higher courts. I think people don't bring them to court and if a sorcerer, especially a woman that has been accused of practising sorcery, if she's been beaten up or anything like that and if she has supportive family, especially brothers and if they want to support then they will be mediated at the village level. And even though it's criminal, but it normally doesn't go higher, very few chances of it going through.

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