This horrendous act took place in my homeland of Papua New Guinea. We are a nation bursting with rich cultural diversity and landscapes you will not see in any other parts of the world. For a lot of it, my heart beats with overwhelming pride. But there are also certain elements of my culture that angers and deeply sadden me.
I grew up hearing stories of people, predominately women, being accused of sorcery. As a result of these accusations, they were faced with being ostracized from their communities, tortured and in a lot of cases, killed. The very act of it was a common practice and sat within the context of being; 'part of our culture'. Even growing up, although I was too young to articulate it at the time, I felt a strong sense of disgust against this practice. For many PNG women, speaking out against gender violence is quite difficult due to the deeply rooted gender inequalities that stem from traditional ways of thinking and defined gender roles.
Finally, in 2013, watching the footage of young Kepari Leniata, something within me broke. It was not because this case had made international headlines or caused an uprising within the country for people to take a stand against gender based violence. No, not any of those reasons. For the very first time, I realised that she could be me. As selfish and as shallow as that may seem, that was the God's honest truth. She was in her 20's, so was I. She was a mum, so was I. The realisation that she could be my sister, my aunty, my daughter, my best friend. I had comfortably distanced myself from it, as if this had no immediate connection to me. But this young woman, was a daughter to her parents, a sister to her siblings, and a mother to her children. It made me think of all the other women who also met with the same fate. Women whose stories were not told and whose bodies are in unmarked graves. I picked up a pen and paper and I began to write. I began to write because these women's voices need to be heard and their stories need to be told. I began to write in hopes to show that we not only stand with them, but we stand for them. That these foul acts cannot continue to happen to women like us and other women in our communities. It is fundamental for every young girl and every woman to know that OUR LIVES MATTER, that WE MATTER.
That is is how 'I am a Kegu' was brought to life. 'I am Kegu' is a Papua New Guinean stage play that is set in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea and is centered around sorcery and witch craft. I have been writing 'I am a Kegu' for the last few years and am now ready to take the next step into creative development. But I need your help! In order to do a week long creative development workshop, I need $10, 000 (AUD) to fund it. This play is so important and it is essential that we bring this onto the stage. Be a part of empowering voices and stories that would necessarily go unheard by contributing
- Phoebe Hutchin
- Chenoa Deemal
- Chenoa Deemal
- Chenoa Deemal
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