Academic Papers: Witchdoctors

Statement on Sorcery-related Killings and Impunity in Papua New Guinea

Statement-on-Sorcery-related-Killings-and-Impunity-in-Papua-New-Guinea

Researching Sorcery accusation… Miranda Forsyth

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Sorcery and Contemporary Warfare in Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands

In the eastern districts of the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea, sorcery-related violence is mainly an inter-community affair. Sorcery beliefs in various parts of the Eastern Highlands hold that sorcery is an exclusively male domain. Furthermore, violent retribution for deaths attributed to sorcery in the Eastern Highlands is primarily directed against other communities, and not against individuals suspected of conducting sorcery. Sorcery-related violence thus has the propensity to quickly spiral out of control, escalating to large-scale inter-community warfare often causing further casualties. This state of affairs contrasts starkly with recent media portrayals of witchcraft-related killings in Papua New Guinea in which angry mobs single out usually defenceless (and often female) individual victims and torture them to death. 

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Media Analysis of Albino Killings inTanzania: A Social Work and HumanRights Perspective

Murders of people with albinism are a recently emerging human rights issue in Africa, particularly Tanzania. Thus far, public debates about albino killings inTanzania and other African countries have been dominated by media reports rather than academic writing. This paper presents the findings of a content analysis of Swahili and English Tanzanian media reports published between 2008 and 2011 onalbinism and albino murders in Tanzania, and the diverse activities that haveunfolded in response to these attacks. Using a human rights framework, the articleexplores these responses from a social work perspective. It finds that interventions are often framed with reference to African conceptions of humanness. Theseconceptions are found to be compatible with notions of human rights as relational,in which the various rights and responsibilities of different members of society areseen as interconnected. In practice however, some interventions have resulted intrade-offs between competing rights, causing further harm to victims and their  families. To become sustainable therefore, interventions should aim to support allthe human rights necessary for the well-being of Africans with albinism, their  families and communities. Further research to this effect is recommended.

 

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Witchcraft and transnational social spaces: witchcraft violence, reconciliation and development in South Africa’s transition process

The strange collusion between occult belief systems and different trans-national social networks, embedded in specific transformations of local and global modes of production, results in unique but reinforcing modifications of witchcraft belief, its underlying structures and its impact on the process of democratisation. The amazing range of possible results has been indicated by the analysis of two outstanding examples of witchcraft violence in South Africa in times of transition: in the former homelands of Venda and Lebowa, seemingly 
‘traditional’ elements of witchcraft accusations, mediated by a mis
guided struggle for liberation, stimulated the sympathetic attention of stakeholders beyond the local setting. On the other hand, the occult base of violence in the Transkei became so blurred by involvement 
of ‘modern’ elements of globalised markets of vio
lence that it was hardly visible any more, although undercover its repressive effects were still very much alive. These different roots of witchcraft violence had serious repercussions on conflict resolution and genuine reconciliation, the base for any sustainable democratisation and development.
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Albinos’ Plight: Will Legal Methods be Powerful Enough To Eradicate Albinos’ Scourge?

In Tanzania, persons with albinism commonly known as albinos, continue to be less valued, rejected, attacked and killed for ritual purposes. In response, the police force has been arresting witchdoctors as part of a campaign against albinos’ ritual killings. Albinos are believed to possess magical powers, source of misfortunes but able make people prosperous economically and socially.  Eradication of witchcraft beliefs for long had been a concern of Africans throughout East and Central Africa. Despite harmful impact of witchcraft and witchdoctors activities, use of legal methods alone to eliminate the beliefs and practices have never been successful. Combination of legal methods and properly designed awareness creation programmes can be effective measures in  fighting against negative beliefs and attitudes towards albinos leading to their brutal attacks and killings.

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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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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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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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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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