Crying Meri

BBC World Service

Papua New Guinea may not be thought of as a traditional conflict zone but the fact is that systemic and often brutal violence is perpetrated with impunity against half of the population: women.

The situation is so bad that Médecins Sans Frontières put out a statement in 2013 declaring that the violence against women constituted a ‘humanitarian crisis’ with prevalence rates ‘only seen in war-zones’. This is an unseen, barely reported conflict, taking place mainly behind closed doors, often with fatal consequences and for which there is no recourse to justice.

Some of the worst violence takes place in the Highlands of PNG. One study concluded that it is present in over 90% of homes. But the Highlands is also host to violence of a particularly sadistic nature, where women accused of sorcery are tortured. Many are killed.

The Russian photographer Vlad Sokhin is the only photographer to have properly documented these attacks, taking place as they do in one of the most remote parts of the world. Pairing with him in a project commissioned by the BBC, which included an hour long radio documentary and this short web film, co-director Benjamin Chesterton travelled to the Highlands to record the stories of some of those survivors brave enough to speak out.

This film contains the story of one of those survivors, Dini Koral. It’s a harrowing, unflinching account, but it’s a story that needs to be told inside and outside of a country where women are literally dying to be heard.

Credits

Director:  Benjamin Chesterton, Vlad Sokhin

Photography:  Vlad Sohkin

Videography:  Benjamin Chesterton

Assistant Producers:  Oli Sharpe, Lisa Coghlan

Translator:  Monica Paulus