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Type: Journal article
Title: Warrior Women, the Holy Spirit and HIV in rural PNG
Author: Dundon, A.
Citation: Oceania, 2007; 77(1):29-42
Publisher: Oceania Publications
Issue Date: 2007
ISSN: 0029-8077
Statement of
Alison Dundon
Abstract: This article analyses a group of Gogodala Christian women in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea who are referred to as 'Warrior women' and who pray, sing and call upon the Holy Spirit to cleanse their own bodies and 'turn their eyes', so that they are able to see those who threaten the health and well-being of the wider community. These women have focused primarily on bringing male practitioners of magic - iwai dala - shadowy and powerful men who operate covertly and away from the gaze of others, out into the open. Whilst this has been happening for many years, the spread of HIV and AIDS into the area, fuelled by what many in the area believe is the rise of unrestrained female and male sexuality and the waning of Christian practice and principles, has meant that those perceived to bring harm to the community through their sexual behaviour have become recent targets for Warrior women. HIV/AIDS, referred to in Gogodala as melesene bininapa gite tila gi - the 'sickness without medicine' - is understood as a hidden sickness, one that makes its way through the community without trace until people become visibly ill. Warrior women seek to make both AIDS and those who, through their behaviour, encourage or enable its spread more visible. In the process, however, a small number of them are overcome by the Holy Spirit, so much so that they become daeledaelenapa - mad - their behaviour increasingly characterised by childishness and uncontrolled sexuality.
Keywords: AIDS
Sex role
Rural conditions
Women's studies
Papua New Guinea
Appears in Collections:Anthropology & Development Studies publications
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