Thursday, January 08, 2009

Young woman burned alive

My heart sinks every time a new witchcraft item makes its way into the news. I wish I never had anything to blog about. Today’s horrifying news headline from CNN is “Woman Suspected of Witchcraft Burned Alive.”

The lead sentence is:

A woman in rural Papua New Guinea was bound and gagged, tied to a log and set ablaze on a pile of tires this week, possibly because villagers suspected her of being a witch, police said Thursday.

Just as in medieval times, victims provide scapegoats for others’ misfortune. The article, by Saeed Ahmed, describes how Papua New Guinea’s high AIDS rates give rise to witchcraft accusations, as people believe witches spread HIV and AIDS.

Police don’t know who the woman was and are asking people to come forward. “Somebody lost their mother or daughter or sister Tuesday morning,” a policeman is quoted as saying. Her remains indicated she was probably in her late teens or early 20s.

She was not the only victim of recent times, Ahmed's piece relates:

The country's Post-Courier newspaper reported Thursday that more than 50 people were killed in two Highlands provinces last year for allegedly practicing sorcery.

In a well-publicized case last year, a pregnant woman gave birth to a baby girl while struggling to free herself from a tree. Villagers had dragged the woman from her house and hung her from the tree, accusing her of sorcery after her neighbor suddenly died.

She and the baby survived, according to media reports.

There is much more in the full article; click here.

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