ANU’s Completion Report on Sorcery Accusation Related Violence in Papua New Guinea

This ANU report documents project findings, outcomes, impact, and lessons learned of the project ‘Improving the Impact of State and Non-State Interventions in Overcoming Sorcery Accusation Related Violence (SARV) in Papua New Guinea (PNG)’. The research began in 2016 when SARV was perceived as a growing problem in PNG and had attracted domestic and international calls for effective government response.

The project was supported by the Australian Government’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) program in Papua New Guinea through the PNGAusPartnership, since the research began in 2016.

The research was a collaboration between the Australian National University, Divine Word University, the PNG National Research Institute, and a network of local research assistants. It answers some key questions for the PNG SARV National Action Plan (SARV NAP) and builds on evidence by establishing baseline markers about how significant a problem SARV is and what diverse and extensive forms of harm it generates. SARV is implicated in a range of negative developmental outcomes, including economic disempowerment, poor health, insecurity, persecution, and violence, including torture and murder. The research confirmed these negative outcomes impact disproportionately upon women and demonstrates the importance of community response to combat SARV. Also, the involvement of government, non-government actors and initiatives is shown by the research to be essential in the effective prevention of SARV.

Over 10 years, supported by the Australian Government, the regional Pacific Women program connected more than 190 gender equality initiatives implemented by over 180 partners across 14 Pacific Island countries. Providing technical, knowledge sharing and convening support to the portfolio of partners in Papua New Guinea is Pacific Women’s Support Unit in Port Moresby.

In Papua New Guinea, long-term support for gender equality from Australia will continue after Pacific Women ends its 10-year tenure in June 2022. This follows the transition of the regional Pacific Women program in 2021 to the new, AUD 170 million Pacific Women Lead program.