79. Many Papuan men consider women a commodity. When women are young and beautiful, men pay a ‘bride price’ for them, which can include large amounts of money, pigs, seashells, flour and rice. Once a bride price is paid, the woman becomes the property of the men. They may be beaten, tortured or simply thrown out into the street.
Sometimes when women get old they are not needed in their families anymore. In the Highlands, it is not unusual for sons to accuse their mothers or grandmothers of witchcraft so they can kill them without punishment and take possession of their houses and other property. In big towns, there may be no place for old women and they might be simply expelled from the house to sleep in the backyard, where they will not interfere with a young family’s life.