Action has to start with prevention

Editorial

THREE women, two pregnant and one an elderly, were tortured because they were suspected of practicing sorcery.
This happened in 2015 on Lihir Island in New Ireland.
The perpetrators, six men, responsible for the cruelty were last week were sentenced to eight years each.
The Government and its relevant authorities have been quiet on the issue of sorcery deaths that have been sweeping of our nation without being reported.
You will only hear comments from the government when an incident is reported in the media.
Regardless of cases being reported, action is needed.
Action is years overdue and too many innocent victims haunt those who care for the future of this country.
In the case of the three women, they were suspected of practicing “sanguma” on the daughter of one of the six men. They were accused of being responsible for the odd sensation within her heart. It was claimed her physical heart had been removed by the work of sanguma.
The women were made to sit up on a platform with their hands tied up. A large fire was made few meters in front of them. Metal objects as well as a kettle were placed in the fire.
These were done for the purpose of interrogation and torturing of the women to make them confess.
As they were being questioned hot metal objects were placed on their bodies. Boiling water was poured over them to make them admit their alleged sorcery practice. This went on for about four hours before they were rescued by police. Killing supposed witches by fire was a common European custom for centuries and thousands of men, women and children met barbarous deaths tied to stakes as the flames consumed their limbs.
That era has since passed in those countries.
The fact that it occurred at all is a damning prosecution of many aspects of society at that time and of many other hideous cruelties.
A medical report tendered in court showed the girl had no serious medical condition but had a mild moderate headache and was treated with pain relief.
The sorcery allegation came about from a prayer session by a group of women who attend the Revival church. Names of the three women were mentioned as being responsible.
While we applaud the court’s penalty on the men, the women in that prayer group should also be held accountable for their accusation. We dare to call ourselves “a Christian people”. Are we?
Committed Christians could not stand and see those who have committed no crime lose their lives. The media receives criticisms for highlighting these stories. Most times, photographs of the twisted remains of those killed are not published because they were gut-wrenching. Most of those killed are women who are mothers and grandmothers.
What chance will their children have of reaching adulthood as most would have been marked as the offspring of a slaughtered witch? Has there been any move by authorities to safeguard their lives or to protect them for future attacks.
It is impossible not to compare the many deaths reported in the past decade. There is no positive future for this country if we continue to believe in this sanguma story and accuse, torture and murder our innocent men and women.
Unless the people are empowered and transformed, this is an attitude problem constructed and crafted by cultural and traditional practices and beliefs.
A society that does not protect the vulnerable, the children, the aged, the handicapped and the poor is a failed society.
Action has to start first with prevention.

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