AN Auckland academic says the real issue with violence against women in Papua New Guinea is not sorcery, but gender inequality.
Associate Professor Evangelina Papoutsaki says unequal gender relations, which are the result of the post-colonial times and Christianity, are being used to justify violence against women.
Father Franco Zocca said earlier this year that only scientific enlightenment and a massive education effort could help overcome sorcery beliefs in the region.
But Papoutsaki does not believe the Catholic Church is helping women by focussing on sorcery.
“It’s nonsense that the Catholic Church declares war on witchcraft and sorcery,” she said. “They should fight for equal treatment for women and gender equality.
“They shouldn’t attack the end result. The issue is not witchcraft. They are approaching it from the wrong perspective.
”Christianity comes in with a different belief system and sits on top of another society with different spiritual practices and they both try to struggle to exist together,” she said.
“Nowadays women need to be ashamed about their body. They need to cover it.
“All of a sudden women became objects of shame.”
Prof Papoutsaki has worked and lived in PNG as a journalism educator and has been doing research there for 10 years.