Welcome To The Bitchery

Apparently, Papua New Guinea's been experiencing a surge of witchcraft-related violence. They've got history with this, but it's also an extremely diverse country, and the torture and killings have spread to areas where they've previously been unknown. So, since magic isn't real, maybe these folks are just making a series of tragic errors in judgment? Not so much, and the article points the finger at a mining boom leading to sudden income inequality and resentment from those who haven't shared in the wealth.

Sorcery is theoretically an equal-opportunity profession, but women are the ones really taking it on the chin. The retired schoolteacher with a nice house and no male relatives nearby might be in some real trouble if one of her neighbors takes ill. Also, for the depraved, there are more than economic reasons for targeting defenseless women. Many of the attacks are explicitly sexual in nature, and though one man was among the six women sodomized with hot iron rods, presuming that he was suspected of homosexuality doesn't exactly stretch the imagination.


Witch hunts and pogroms and the like are basically terrorism, but there's also the question of what they're "about." Just like Salem, there seems to be a mishmash of religion, economic pressures, and maybe a little group hysteria. Often left unsaid is that witchhunting is a masculine activity, and the cross-cultural exemplar is a group of men burning a woman alive after subjecting her to horrendous abuse. Everyone has camera phones nowadays, so the violence is pretty well-documented, but all lynch mobs look the same to me.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter