Papua New Guinea has been named as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman – with an estimated 70% of the country’s female population experiencing sexual assault or rape in their lifetime.

Human Rights Watch has claimed the country’s police force is “very rarely prepared” to pursue allegations of domestic violence, even in cases which involved repeated rape or attempted murder.

Even though the PNG government has introduced laws to criminalise violence against women, few perpetrators are ever brought to justice.

In its annual World Report, the not-for-profit group said police officers regularly demand cash from abuse victims before investigating their case – while incidents in rural areas are routinely ignored.

HRW added: “Reports continue of violent mobs attacking individuals accused of ‘sorcery’ or ‘witchcraft’, the victims mostly being women and girls.

“Sorcery accusations are often accompanied by brutal attacks, including burning of homes, assault and sometimes murder.”

According to Human Rights Watch, those accused of sorcery are in such grave danger that “the main approach” used by non-governmental organisations in the region is to permanently resettle them in another community.

An estimated 40% of Papua New Guinea’s population lives in poverty, and other “pressing issues” faced by the country include corruption, gender inequality and excessive use of force by the police – including against children.

Brad Adams, the director of HRW Asia, said: “Papua New Guinea is failing to meet its obligations under international law to protect women and girls from discrimination and family violence.”

The ongoing refugee crisis on Manus Island in PNG has also been criticised, where HRW alleges “more than 930 asylum seekers are currently being detained indefinitely in poor conditions”.

Many of those at the detention centre have been transferred from Australia for resettlement in Papua New Guinea, or until their refugee status can be determined.

However, the report claims some of those in the camps have been held for more than two years – and are unable to leave Manus Island to study or find employment.

“The protracted and indefinite nature of detention is causing significant mental health problems for those on Manus Island, including depression and anxiety,” the HRW report warned.

Australia is Papua New Guinea’s most important international partner, according to the report, as it is set to provide nearly $400m (£280m) of aid to the country in this financial year.

But there are concerns that corruption is preventing this development money from being used effectively, and the Australian Senate is currently undertaking an inquiry into how the cash is being used.

Click for more from Sky News.