Woman Brutally Murdered in Papua New Guinea After Being Accused of Sorcery

You may have already heard about this horrific story coming out of Papua New Guinea in which a six-year-old boy died after being sick… and his relatives not only blamed 20-year-old Kepari Leniata for committing the crime, they accused her of sorcery and burned her alive.

According to the reports, which were accompanied by graphic front-page images of the woman’s burning corpse, she admitted to killing the boy, who died after being hospitalised with stomach and chest pains on Tuesday.

Police said they were treating the torching as murder and preparing charges against those responsible.

There is a widespread belief in sorcery in the poverty-stricken Pacific nation where many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune, illness, accidents or death.

This isn’t a religion-based crime, per se, but it is the sort of violence that occurs when you put faith in superstition and throw aside any notion of evidence.

This is a crime against common sense, a crime against women, and a crime against reason. It was caused by the same sort of gullible thinking that leads all sorts of religious extremists to kill in the name of their God.

For what it’s worth, 96% of natives are some form of Christian, but that didn’t seem to stop the murderers from committing their horrific act.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Octoberfurst

    This kind of horrific crimes shows WHY we need to eradicate superstition & belief in the supernatural from our world. We need to advance logic and rational thinking if we want to prevent terrible acts like this from happening. Unfortunately events like that are all too common in the 3rd world.

  • Sue Blue

    What’s really ironic is hearing all the outrage and condemnation from people of all religious stripes around the world. Wasn’t so long ago that fine upstanding Christians were doing exactly the same thing – and they would be again if we let them. And need I mention the atrocities committed in the name of Allah? Ignorant, dangerous superstition is ignorant, dangerous superstition, no matter what it’s called or where or when it happens.

  • DougI

    They tortured her to get a confession that she was a witch. Oh, I’m sorry, they used “enhanced interrogation” to get a confession that she was a witch.

  • Wild Rumpus

    Doesn’t matter how they got her to confess, the ends justified the means.

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    It doesn’t help it was in Papua New Guinea either. The “security” situation there is…well, it’s a bit like the Somalia of the South Pacific.

    That poor woman. And her poor kids. :-(

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    This isn’t a religion-based crime, per se

    Oh, I’d definitely count sorcery as religion. It’s not Western monotheistic religion, but it’s religion nonetheless.

  • Stev84

    In such cultures they often mix traditional, native beliefs about witchcraft and animism with the Christianity forced on them by missionaries. You can see the same in some African countries where they kill “witches” and albinos.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    thousands of years before the “birth of Christ” some women were specialists in herbs and other remedies ancient people used as medicine, before Science. some of those treatments even worked! these women were lauded as priestesses and leaders and healers.

    but then, some guys decided to invent a Guy Centered religion, which banned “witches.” because those women were sexy and powerful and made a positive difference in their community. and those doods could not stand it. because they didn’t want to work and liked free money and scared people coming to them for advice.

    i am an atheist. i am a scholar of religion. i will positively assert that if we have to have religion on this planet, and apparently we do, it should be the “witchy” ones. i don’t mean to be sexist. but i really think that religions that focus on healing and nature are better than ones that focus on warfare and killing and control.

  • Quintin van Zuijlen

    That’s not sexist to begin with, so no problem.

  • John Gills

    As horrific as this obscenity is, it will be interesting to see how the Papua New Guinea authorities react. Will they see it as murder or street justice?

  • Carmelita Spats

    A young woman died in Ireland because a SUPERSTITIOUS Catholic hospital policy denied her a life-saving abortion. She died a gruesome death. A crime against common sense, a crime against reason, a crime against women:


  • L.Long

    Well one problem is that ALL religions are based on magic so in essence 100% of all religious people believe in some form of magic. No I know that atheism is non-belief in gawd but I wonder what the %age of atheists are magic believers??

  • Octoberfurst

    I happen to know a few atheists who believe in Reiki and healing crystals. I have no idea why they believe in that nonsense. One would think that atheists would apply critical thinking to ALL aspects of their lives and not just when it comes to belief in God. But sadly that is not always the case.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    This isn’t a religion-based crime, per se

    I don’t get this. How is it not a religiously based crime? Because belief in Sorcery isn’t part of religion? I’m afraid you’ve completely lost me on that point Hemant.

  • L.Long

    But this is a part of the abrahamic religions. The buyBull and the karan have states condemning the occult-socery-witchcraft. How do you condemn something that you don’t believe exists?? To them ALL it does, or they deny that part of their Hole-yText.

  • ColombianJoker