A 20-year old woman in Papua New Guinea was burned alive this week after being accused of killing a neighbor boy with witchcraft.
Kepari Leniata was reportedly dragged from her home, stripped nude, and tortured with hot iron rods before being bound, doused with gasoline, and set on fire. The horrifying incident came after a six-year old boy complained of pains in his stomach before dying suddenly, and members of his family were suspicious that “sorcery” was involved. They confronted Leniata, who admitted to practicing the craft but said she had nothing to do with the boy’s death. Her protests went unheard, however, and she was burned alive in a trash heap beneath some tires. It’s been reported that local police responded but were kept away by the large crowd that gathered, and at least one source names Leniata’s own husband as a prime suspect in the killing, though it’s unclear what role he played.
Apparently, accusations of this sort are common in the area, and the bishop of a local church spoke out about them after Leniata’s death.
“Sorcery and sorcery-related killings are growing and the government needs to come up with a law to stop such practice,” David Piso said. “Many innocent and helpless people have been killed and tortured after being accused of witchcraft, but taking a life is against the teachings of the Bible and the laws of the country.”
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said he is working to crack down on these types of killings as he is faced with mounting pressure to reduce violence against women, as well as set harsher punishments for offenders.