It is extremely difficult to gauge the nature and extent of sorcery accusation–related violence (SARV) at a national level in any country. In part this is due to under-reporting and because official health and justice records do not typically monitor whether incidents are linked to sorcery accusations. Papua New Guinea poses particular challenges because of its language and cultural diversity, and poor reach and reliability of data collection in government services that respond to SARV. The vast majority of literature on SARV in Papua New Guinea is qualitative in nature, and most is localised, with very few quantitative studies.
This and three other In Briefs report findings from a recent quantitative analysis of media and case law from 1996 to 2016, which forms one part of a major multi-method study of SARV in Papua New Guinea. There are serious drawbacks in relying on media coverage, including the difficulty in distinguishing between trends in media interest in the issue and trends in actual incidents of SARV, but newspapers currently provide the most comprehensive dataset of SARV. All results should be interpreted and used with caution, and in the broader study will be triangulated with a range of other methodologies, including qualitative research.