Academic Papers: Witch-hunts

Papua New Guinea: Overview Presentation. Sorcery and Witchcraft Accusations: Developing a National Response to Overcome the Violence.

This paper draws on research that includes the torture and ill treatment of the accused sorcerers and witches. Richard Eves includes details of his fieldwork and draws on evidence from New Ireland.

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Magic and Witchcraft Implications for Democratisation and Poverty-Alleviating Aid in Africa

The belief in occult forces is still deeply rooted in many African societies, regardless of education, religion, and social class of the people concerned. According to many Africans its incidence is even increasing due to social stress and strain caused (among others) by the  process of modernization. This paper looks into how magic and witchcraft accusations work to the disadvantage of the poor and deprived, but under particular circumstances they become a means of the poor in the struggle against oppression by establishing “cults of counter-violence”.

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Albinism, Witchcraft and Superstition in East Africa

This paper looks at profuse media reports and discourse on the plight of Persons with Albinism (PWA) in East Africa in the recent times raise the question of livelihood security of a minority group. PWA constitutes a group of people that are marginalised and discriminated owing to cultural perspective of biological condition. The present study draws on the social exclusion theory to characterise the social, cultural, and economic aspects of daily life struggles among PWA in East Africa.

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‘Witch-hunting’ in India: Do We Need Special Laws?

Partners for Law in Development in Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh invetigate laws that need to be put in place to combat witchcraft accusations. The scholarly article shows the barriers in dealing with witch-hunting and related forms of violence. Mehra claims that there needs to be a focus on accountability and reform of the agencies that activate the criminal justice system.

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Contemporary Practices of Witch Hunting: A Report on Social trends and the interface with law

Many states such as Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa, have had concerns expressed about the targeting of women as ‘witches’, or what is widely called ‘witch hunting’. This report addresses social trends, norms, and acceptance of making women targets for such accusation and persecution. It discusses the consequences of “witch-hunting” and laws that have been put into place to combat it.

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21st Century Witchcraft Accusations

Being accused of witchcraft, black magic or other forms of evil, can result in serious violations of human rights including, at the most extreme, torture and death. This happens all around the world. Women, children, the disabled and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to these forms of abuse.

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Voodoo, Witchcraft and Human Trafficking in Europe, Oct 2013

This paper focuses on human rights violations linked to African witchcraft which are occurring in Europe. It is organized in three sections. The first section examines threats toward alleged child-witches; the second examines the misuse of voodoo to enslave women for sexual purposes; and the third will look at the mistreatment and sexual abuse of children or women as part of witchcraft rituals.

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Witchcraft and Displacement

There is a longstanding and well-documented relationship between human displacement and witchcraft allegations. The Policy Development and Evaluation Service (PDES) has undertaken a very rapid assessment of the current state of knowledge about refugee protection and witchcraft allegations.

See full report here.

The Witch Hunt as a Structure of Argumentation

The concept of a witch hunt is frequently invoked, in recent times, to describe a kind of procedure for deciding the guilt of a person against whom an accusation has been made. But what exactly is a witch hunt? In this paper, ten conditions are formulated as a cluster of properties characterizing the witch hunt as a framework in which arguments are used: (1) pressure of social forces, (2) stigmatization, (3) climate of fear, (4) resemblance to a fair trial, (5) use of simulated evidence, (6) simulated expert testimony, (7) nonfalsifi- ability characteristic of evidence, (8) reversal of polarity, (9) non-openness, and (10) use of the loaded question technique. The witch hunt, as characterized by these criteria, is shown to function as a negative normative structure for evaluating argumentation used in particular cases.

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Child Abuse in the UK: Witchcraft and Possession, Oct 2013

The essay is an argument for legislative reform linking the branding of children as witches and possessed and incitement to significant harm. It will propose that the law is reformed to include the criminal offence of inciting significant harm to a child.

See full essay here.