Skip to main content
Amnesty International UK
Log in

Good news: women accused of 'sorcery' released

Last month, we asked for your help to release three women being held hostage in Papua New Guinea accused of ‘sorcery’. We were deeply concerned for their safety, following the beheading days earlier of teacher and women’s rights advocate Helen Rumbali, who had been accused of the same ‘crime’.

After three tense weeks, we’ve got fantastic news to share with you.

The three women are all, free, safe and receiving medical care. What’s more, the President of Papua New Guinea has announced his intention to repeal the notorious Sorcery Act, which would help prevent such brutality taking place in the future.

And this is largely thanks to the swift response of Amnesty supporters around the world, including nearly 7,500 of you who texted to add your name to our urgent calls on the Papua New Guinea authorities to help save the women’s lives.

Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="//";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");


window.___gcfg = {lang: 'en-GB'};

(function() {
var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true;
po.src = '';
var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s);


Not yet receiving our urgent text actions? Make sure we can contact you for the next action like this. Text PROTEST PAPUA and your full name to 70505 now to join our text action network. Over 14s only please.*

What happened?

At the start of April, women’s rights advocate and teacher Helen Rumbali was beheaded in front of the local community, after three days of torture, for ‘sorcery’. Sadly, attacks like this are not uncommon in Papua New Guinea. Under the controversial Sorcery Act, any allegations of ‘sorcery’ can be used to justify or excuse horrific attacks. That’s why we have called for the act to be repealed by authorities, to remove that justification.

As we were getting ready to respond to Helen’s horrific murder, we received information that another woman and her two daughters had been captured. They were also accused of sorcery, and the woman was already injured. The police were doing little – we needed to act, fast.

How you helped

We put the call out for action on our rapid response Pocket Protest network, and you did us proud. Nearly 7,500 of you put your name to letters we were sending to the authorities, calling on the police to do all they could to save these three women.

Alongside your actions here in the UK, our friends at Amnesty Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere sent thousands of emails and letters demanding the same.

Safe, free and receiving help

Yesterday, we heard the news that the three women (and their family members) are now free, safe and receiving the medical care they need. The local Bouganville police heeded our calls and did all they could to resolve the standoff, with senior officers involved in the negotiations to release the women.

Just as importantly, the Prime Minster of Papua New Guinea has announced he intends to repeal the Sorcery Act – a massive victory for those in Papua New Guinea who been campaigning for change for a long time.

Your quick response to our calls for help made a huge difference – we simply couldn’t do this without you. Thank you – you are powerful.

Make sure we can contact you for the next urgent action like this. Text PROTEST PAPUA and your full name to 70505 now to join our text action network. Over 14s only please.*


*Texts charged at standard network rate, no more than 10p. Please ask bill-payer's permission. By giving us your number you agree to future communication from us by SMS. To unsubscribe, text STOP AMNESTY to 70505 at any time. See full terms and conditions

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
View latest posts