Sorcery Accusation Related Violence in Papua New Guinea: The Impact of SARV on Children

27 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2022

See all articles by Miranda Forsyth

Miranda Forsyth

School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet)

Philip Gibbs

Divine Word University

William Kipongi

Papua New Guinea National Research Institute

Ibolya Losoncz

Australian National University (ANU)

Date Written: October 5, 2021

Abstract

This discussion paper details three main ways children are impacted by sorcery accusation related violence (SARV) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) today. First, it explains that infant and childhood mortality and illness are a major trigger of accusations of sorcery. Second, it identifies a newish and concerning trend of children in PNG being accused of possessing sorcery or being inhabited by a malevolent entity and subjected to mistreatment and harm. This parallels a shift in sub-Saharan African nations towards accusations being made increasingly against children rather than the elderly. Both boys and girls are accused, frequently as a result of one of their parents or close relatives having been accused, due to the belief that sorcery is somehow ‘passed on’ to children. Third, children are often severely indirectly impacted by SARV as a result of their parents or family members being accused. This can result in trauma as well as displacement and ongoing stigma. There are also wider societal implications arising from fear and mutual suspicion flowing from SARV that is damaging for children in particular.

Keywords: sorcery accusation related violence, SARV, Papua New Guinea, children, youth, sorcery accusation, sanguma, witchcraft, sub-Saharan Africa

JEL Classification: Z10, Z12, Z18, O57

Suggested Citation

Forsyth, Miranda and Gibbs, Philip and Kipongi, William and Losoncz, Ibolya, Sorcery Accusation Related Violence in Papua New Guinea: The Impact of SARV on Children (October 5, 2021). Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 97, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3958505

Miranda Forsyth (Contact Author)

School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

Philip Gibbs

Divine Word University ( email )

Papua New Guinea
67571722349 (Phone)

William Kipongi

Papua New Guinea National Research Institute

Papua New Guinea

Ibolya Losoncz

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

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