In most parts of the world, stories about witch-hunts are confined to documentaries and mini-series. But in the Southeast Asian nation of Papua New Guinea, real-life witch-hunts that end in torture or murder are so commonplace they rarely make the evening news. Most also go uninvestigated by police. This comes despite the introduction of the death penalty for witch-hunting in 2013, after Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old woman accused of using witchcraft to kill a neighbor’s boy, was burnt alive on a busy street corner as hundreds of people looked on.
But late last year, when news broke that a six-year-old girl accused of sorcery had been tortured by a group of men and only narrowly escaped with her life following a daring rescue mission by lay-missionary Anton Lutz from Iowa, the story made headlines not only in PNG but across the world.