Gender-Based Violence Contributing To Spread Of HIV In Papua New Guinea, Amnesty International Report Says

3 Jun 2008   

Violence against women is contributing to the spread of HIV in Papua New Guinea, Amnesty International said in its recent annual report, the Australian Associated Press reports. According to the report, gender-based violence, including "sexual violence," in the country is "endemic in the home and in the community." Such violence is "seen as a key reason behind the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which, in turn, is fueling more abuses against women" because AIDS-related deaths are "sometimes believed to be the result of sorcery," the report added. In addition, the report said that people in Papua New Guinea have little faith in the country's police because they often do not investigate crimes, make arrests or collect evidence (Australian Associated Press, 5/30).

Officials and researchers in July 2007 said that some women in Papua New Guinea are being accused of practicing witchcraft to cause AIDS-related deaths among young people in the country. An analysis released by the Centre for Independent Studies in Australia said, "Sorcery, witchcraft and other supernatural forces are widely blamed for causing HIV/AIDS" in Papua New Guinea. It added that "[a]ccusations of sorcery have resulted in torture and murder" of some women. Research fellow Miranda Tobias wrote in the analysis that there are "reports of women being tortured for days in efforts to extract confessions." Such forms of torture include being "beaten, stabbed, cut with knives, sexually assaulted and burnt with hot irons," Tobias wrote. According to the earlier analysis, it is "estimated that there have been 500 such attacks in the past year" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/25/07).

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2008 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation.

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