Academic Papers: Witch-hunts

The Extent and Nature of Witchcraft-Based Violence against Children, Women and the Elderly in Malawi, April 27 2012

Many people observe that witchcraft is widely practiced in Malawi and that suspected witches are subjected to acts of violence. However, no systematic research study has been conducted to determine the extent and nature of witchcraft-based violence against children, women, and the elderly who are the most vulnerable groups. Previous reports have often been based on hearsay, and there has been no systematic analysis of the reports. The overall aim of the study was to find out the extent of witchcraft-based violence toward women, the elderly and children so that remedial measures could be prescribed.

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Women as Easy Scapegoats : Witchcraft Accusations and Women as Targets in Tea Plantations of India, Nov 7 2012

This article revisits a much-debated question: Why are women popular targets during witch hunts? By using in-depth interviews this article provides an answer.Women are easy targets or scapegoats for two reasons. First, it is widely believed in the community that was studied that witches do, in fact, exist, and the images of witches are always female. Second, tribal women hold lower positions than men in all social, political, and ritual matters, and this contributes to their vulnerability during the hunt for scapegoats. This article also highlights the roles that rumors play during manipulation of witchcraft accusations to gather support for witch hunts.

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Strategic Framing Works(s): How Microcredit Loans Facilitate Anti-witch-hunt Movements, Feb 17 2012

This article shows how a social movement organization focused on microcredit loans is able to mobilize a community against its own cultural practice of witch-hunts. Successful mobil- ization against witch-hunts are possible when two conditions are met: first, when activists are able to tap into microcredit groups’ social capacity for collective mobilization (defined by ties of mutual dependence, reciprocity, and friendship); and second, when activists are able to use strategic framing to present a coherent argument about the congruence of microcredit and anti-witch-hunt goals. In this context a master frame (women’s development) emerged that effectively forged the seemingly disparate goals of microcredit loans and anti-witch-hunt campaigns into one synthetic movement. In contrast, successful mobilization against witch-hunts was difficult in areas where the activists did not have access to the microcredit networks or were not able to strategically frame the campaign.

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An Anthropological Study of Witchcraft-related Crime in the Eastern Cape and its implications for Law Enforcement Policy and Practice, Jan 2009

This research sought to investigate the phenomenon of witchcraft-related crime in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, and its implications for law enforcement policy and practice. The primary motivation for a study such as this emerged from the need to address the lack of academic knowledge about witchcraft-related crime, especially in the Eastern Cape. The study is anthropological in focus, and is thus based on anthropological techniques of data gathering.

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Witchcraft & “Wicked” Women

Witchcraft has its roots deep in African history and culture, long before the dawn of colonization. With the coming of Colonialism, however, Africa was impacted on political, social, and economic levels, which are linked to the occult, and have led to a culture in which women are further to blame and are oppressed.

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Child Witches: From Imaginary Cannibalism to Ritual Abuse, 2012

As Quidditch comes to the Olympic Expo Games in Oxford this year (Martinez 2012), the Seekers, Chasers and Beaters recreating JK Rowling’s fantasy game are no doubt unaware that many children in the UK are languishing in an altogether different world of ‘witchcraft and wizardry,’ a world of ndoki and kindoki.

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BANISHED – A scholar examines how the persecution of alleged witches in Africa has evolved into a human rights issue on a global scale, August 1, 2013

In 2010, an African woman petitioned for political asylum in the U.S. on what seemed to be rather far-fetched grounds: She claimed her life was in jeopardy because she had been accused of being a witch. The woman, who was from Guinea, said villagers believed she was a witch because she had given birth to an intersex child. The woman contended that she needed asylum because when she was a girl she had witnessed another accused witch burned alive.

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No Peace in the House: Witchcraft Accusations as an “Old Woman’s Problem” in Ghana, 2013

In Ghana, older women may be marginalized, abused, and even killed as witches. Media accounts imply this is common practice, mainly through stories of “witches camps” to which the accused may flee. Anthropological literature on aging and on witchcraft, however, suggests that this focus exaggerates and misinterprets the problem. This article presents a literature review and exploratory data on elder advocacy and rights intervention on behalf of accused witches in Ghana to help answer the question of how witchcraft accusations become an older woman’s problem in the context of aging and elder advocacy work. The ineffectiveness of rights based and formal intervention through sponsored education programs and development projects is contrasted with the benefit of informal conflict resolution by family and staff of advocacy organizations. Data are based on ethnographic research in Ghana on a rights based program addressing witchcraft accusations by a national elder advocacy organization and on rights based intervention in three witches camps.

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Witch-hunts in South Africa – Advocacy against Human Rights Abuses Committed as a Result of Accusations of Witchcraft and Violent Witch-hunts, 2014

The vast majority of victims of accusation of witchcraft, both deceased and still living, in South Africa have been and are being denied their legal right to all of these constitutional rights. Accusations of witchcraft are not condoned under the constitutional rights to freedom of religion, belief and opinion, or expression, as incitement to propaganda for war; incitement of imminent violence; or advocacy of hatred based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, that constitutes incitement to cause harm, is not protected under South African law. Accusations of witchcraft and resulting witch-hunts constitute a series of clearly identified crimes under both international and national law.

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2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – South Africa, February 25, 2009

South Africa is a multiparty parliamentary democracy in which constitutional power is shared between the president and the parliament. The country has a population of approximately 48.5 million. The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens. However, the government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and local media reported the following serious human rights problems: police use of excessive force against suspects and detainees, which resulted in deaths and injuries; vigilante and mob violence; abuse of prisoners, including beatings and rape, and severe overcrowding of prisons; lengthy delays in trials and prolonged pretrial detention; forcible dispersal of demonstrations; pervasive violence against women and children and societal discrimination against women and persons with disabilities; trafficking in persons; violence resulting from racial and ethnic tensions and conflicts with foreigners; and child labor, including forced child labor and child prostitution.

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