Academic Papers: All

Witchcraft belief and accusations against children in Sub-Saharan Africa

Belief in witchcraft is widespread across the African continent. Recently, attention has been drawn to the relatively new phenomenon of witchcraft accusations against children, leading to punishment that severely violates their human rights. Analysing the recommendations made by NGOs and United Nations organs regarding this issue, the author argues that they neglect a normative conflict between cultural belief and human rights as well as lacks philosophical depth. The following article presents, clarifies and discusses the normative problem surrounding the phenomenon of witchcraft belief and accusations against children from a theoretical perspective, in order to facilitate an in-depth understanding of the issue in a wider context of moral values as well as improve the possibilities for successful prevention strategies. Universalism and cultural relativism is presented and discussed, as well as the indeterminacy of human rights. Ultimately, the conclusion states the choice between treating a child as an individual or as a part of the community an important normative consideration, however the main normative problem is found within universalism in the form of conflicting human rights. See the full article:  witchcraft belief and accusations against children in sub-saharan africa

Witch-hunts in modern Africa and early modern Europe: A comparison

Belief in witchcraft is found across the world and in some societies alleged witches are persecuted and killed. This article explores the rise of false accusations of witchcraft and the resultant killings in South Africa in the last three decades; as many as 20 000 may have died between 2004 and 2008. The article considers these lynching’s in the light of killings associated with witch-hunts in Europe (1450–1750) focusing on the witch-hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In many cases, people’s credulity is abused by those who accuse others of practising witchcraft. The accusers often stand to gain in some way and exploit the vulnerability of those they accuse. This article explores witch hunts as a reaction to disaster as related to gender bias and relational problems. It shows that such persecution is difficult to control with social institutions; it is a self propagating discourse with potentially tragic results for the victims. See the full article here: witchhunts in modern africa and early modern europe

Nigeria: Witchcraft stigmatization in Nigeria: Challenges and successes in the implementation of child rights

The following analysis considers witchcraft accusations against children and the consequent children’s rights abuse in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. See full article here: Witchcraft stigmatization in Nigeria

Papua New Guinea: Comments on Sorcery in Papua New Guinea

Variations of sorcery and witchcraft are commonly reported in Papua New Guinea. The Melanesian Institute (in Goroka, PNG) has published two volumes (Zocca, ed. 2009; Bartle 2005) that deal extensively with some of the issues and problems that have resulted from the practices. In this article Dr Karl Franklin reviews Zocca, in particular, but add observations of my own and those of other authors. The paper provides a summary of the overall folk views of sorcery and witchcraft and the government and churches. Click here for paper.
suggestions on how to deal with the traditional customs.

Report on Child Witchcraft Beliefs and Accusations in Southern Malawi

This report is based on research done on behalf of Stichting Afrika Zending and Across Outreach in Malawi in order to provide relevant information concerning child witchcraft accusations in the Southern African nation. The main aim of this research is to gain a better understanding of child witchcraft beliefs and accusations in Malawi and to contribute to more effective intervention on behalf of vulnerable children and other vulnerable groups in Malawi. For full report see here

Felix Riedel: Children in African Witch-Hunts – An introduction for Scientists and Social Workers.

Children are branded as witches on a mass-scale in Congo,Nigeria and Angola. Recent interpretational frameworks about these child witch-hunts employ a simplistic materialism centred on political and economic crises. Meanwhile, historic sources from distinct regions disprove the claim of a purely modern problem. While the concept of child-witchcraft is old and equally well-known from the European context, the recent crisis points indeed at a massive shift in propaganda and victimization strategies. In this text, two showcase film-analyses further question the importance of a crisis for the ideologemes. In the meantime, journalistic evidence and experiences of social workers spearhead the research as ethnographers seem to avoid the issue. Moral demands call for an implementation of advanced theory, psychological competence and social work with children accused of witchcraft.

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Tanzania: Witchcraft and the law in Tanzania – Simeon Mesaki

Witchcraft is a topical subject and an intriguing phenomenon in Africa. Thriving on belief systems it baffles and confronts ruling elites with dilemmas on how to deal with it. Tanzania experiences grim consequences by the entrenchment of witchcraft in the country including social exclusion, expulsion and even murder of alleged witches. The legal system copes inadequately with the challenges of witchcraft because it does not accept the reality of witchcraft and the colonial inherited law is a blunt instrument in dealing with the problem. This article charts the history of the law on witchcraft in Tanzania and concludes that witchcraft beliefs are too strong to be driven out by legal methods and instead advocates for the removal of ignorance by introducing a scientific view of the world through
[mass] education.

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Tanzania: Illness and Death Experiences in North-Western Tanzania: an Investigation of Discources, Practices, Beliefs and Social Outcomes, Especially Related to Witchcraft, Used in Critical Contextualisation and Education Process with Pentecostal Ministers

This research (1) by Steven Rasmussen for his PHD secured detailed information on discourses and practices during selected episodes involving illness and/or death in Northwestern Tanzania with particular attention to the beliefs involved, and to the social outcomes of these practices and (2) used this material as the basis for a carefully documented critical contextualization and education process in which ministers inductively grappled with the theological and pastoral issues which these cases represent.

Please click here ILLNESS AND DEATH EXPERIENCES IN NORTHWESTERN TANZANIA

UK – Child Abuse Linked to Accusations of “Possession” and “Witchcraft”

This report concerns the frequency and severity of child abuse linked to accusations of “possession” and “witchcraft”. It identifies key features common to these cases, draws conclusions and makes recommendations.

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