UNDP continues its efforts to support victims of sorcery accusation related violence

The United Nations Development Programme today visited survivors of sorcery accusation related violence (SARV) in Southern Highlands Province, again unequivocally condemning all forms of violence and calling for the immediate prosecution of those responsible for such acts of violence.

December 2, 2022

A community in Southern Highlands Province welcoming Ms. Wignaraja and Resident Representative, Mr. Dirk Wagener, to their village.

Clive Hawigen | UNDP Papua New Guinea

Mostly targeting women and girls, sorcery accusation-related violence is on the rise in some parts of the country. This violence results in torture, death, disability and ostracization.

UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and UNDP Director for Asia and the Pacific, Ms. Kanni Wignaraja today visited a facility where UNDP has worked with the Catholic Diocese of Mendi to assist survivors with medical care, trauma counselling and opportunities to rehabilitate their lives with support for renewed livelihood opportunities.

In meeting with survivors, Ms. Wignaraja said, “sorcery accusation related violence must be investigated and prosecuted consistent with due process. Those found responsible must be brought to justice. Those acting as glasman or glasmeri (individuals accusing others of practicing witchcraft) must be held responsible for the accusations that lead to these behaviours and attitudes. Defense of such practices by some as being culturally rooted are baseless and must be summarily dismissed.”

UNDP has been supporting these services through its ongoing partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Mendi. UNDP’s efforts have provided ongoing support to more than a hundred cases of sexual and domestic violence and have addressed the immediate needs of SARV survivors including medical, legal, and psycho-social support as well as dignified reintegration into a community where lives can be rebuilt.

UNDP efforts have been critical in supporting Papua New Guinea’s work to address gender-based violence more broadly. UNDP is a partner to the Parliamentary Coalition against gender-based violence and provided secretariat services to the 10th Parliament’s Special Committee on gender-based violence which delivered two unprecedented public hearings that led to increased government funding to fight GBV in 2022.

UNDP has further led the way in expanding referral and support services to victims of such violence and is a first and principal partner to the Department of Community Development and Religion who remain the lead Government agency in taking forward the Government’s national response to this violence.

During today’s visit, Ms. Wignaraja handed over medical supplies to front line support staff and other supplies with which survivors will be able to pursue livelihood opportunities to rebuild their lives.