Blog

Toil and Trouble: The Economist

The Economist investigates the challenge police and social workers are facing to prevent the spread of abuse linked to belief in witchcraft and spirit possession in the UK. Read the full story here 

BBC Radio 5 Live Investigation into Witchcraft Accusations in the UK

Listen to the full story, including comment from WHRIN Executive Director – Gary Foxcroft – here 

UN Commission on the Status of Women Session 59 : Witchcraft Accusations Panel

UN Commission on the Status of Women Session 59

 WITCHCRAFT ACCUSATIONS - VIOLENCE & TORTURE -
WOMEN & CHILDREN

 March 11, 2015

4:30 pm – 6:00 pm

Salvation Army Center – Auditorium

221 E. 52nd St. – Between 2nd & 3rd Avenues – NYC

See full event details here

Read WHRIN’s statement for the panel here

 

Controversial ‘witch hunter’ Helen Ukpabio comes to London

Channel 4 coverage of Ukpabio’s visit to London and WHRIN’s call for her to be deported. See here 

Hunting Witches – World Policy Journal Article by WHRIN

Article by Gary Foxcroft, Executive Director, WHRIN. Read full article here 

WHRIN 2014 Country Report: Witchcraft Accusations and Persecution in Nepal

Joint report with Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and Forum for Protection of People’s Rights (PPR Nepal). Launched at National Women’s Commission in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 2014. See full report here

Mike Ormsby: Child Witch Kinshasa

It’s spring 2002 and Frank Kean is training journalists in troubled Congo. When he learns that religious zealots are persecuting so-called child witches, his reporter’s instincts kick in. Why so little news coverage of these ‘exorcisms’? He is determined to break the silence.
In a remote village, Pastor Precious arrives to battle Satan. Twelve-year-old Dudu faces a torrent of accusations and is forced to flee, far from home. The quick-witted boy swears he is not a witch, but evidence suggests otherwise. When Frank meets Dudu in Kinshasa, he sees an opportunity to help a vulnerable and wary street kid, even if it means crossing the line and making promises he may be unable to keep. But can they trust each other in a crisis? Child With Kinshasa is the first part of a two-volume novel, where fear and friendship collide in the shadow of a relentless civil war. The story continues in Child Witch London.
“I read this book during a recent trip to Nigeria, where I have worked to help children accused of witchcraft for over 10 years. I found the book thoroughly gripping, well informed and, in general, a fantastic read. It isn’t easy to capture the true issues behind why people accuse children of being witches but Mike Ormsby does this incredibly well. He also captures the shear horror of this issue in a humane, down-to-earth and, surprisingly funny way. It would make a great read for anyone and everyone but most especially those working in the fields of international development, street children and child protection in the UK and Africa would benefit from reading it. I’m really looking forward to the second part of the book, which will focus on the UK side of the issue”. Review by Gary Foxcroft, Executive Director, WHRIN

You can buy the book here

Violence Against Children Accused of Witchcraft – Statement by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children

Violence Against Children Accused of Witchcraft, Statement by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children - Marta Santos Pais –   Geneva, 10 March 2014. See full statement here

WHRIN Report to UN: Exploring the Role of Nollywood in the Muti Murders of Persons with Albinism

 

A Report to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right for the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council on the Attacks and Discrimination Against People With Albinism (PWA). See full report  here

Violence Against Women Accused of Sorcery In Papua New Guinea

Every now and then a case of serious human rights abuse occurs that seems to capture the imagination of the global media and wider community. This has certainly been the case in Papua New Guinea, where the recent killing of Kepari Leniata was widely reported around the world. Kepari was accused of bewitching a six-year old boy and then stripped, tortured with a hot iron rod, doused in petrol, and burned on a pile of rubbish and car tyres. The photo taken of this terrible crime has been seen by countless people around the world and led to the government being petitioned by the UN and Amnesty, amongst many other groups. In response to this the government recently repealed the sorcery act and passed a new law to allow the death penalty to be applied to such cases.

Photographer – Vlad Sokhin – has captured some incredibly powerful images of this problem, which have been used by Amnesty to raise awareness of this issue. I thought that I was fairly resilient to being horrified by images after having seen some terrible cases of abuse over the years but even I was moved close to tears by seeing some of these shots.Please see brief report from Vlad below and feel free to contact him on vladsokhin@gmail.com or see his website www.vladsokhin.com if you need any further information on his work.

 

Sorcery-related-violence is widespread in Papua New Guinea. In the Highlands Region of PNG witch-hunts occur almost in every province. Locals believe in black magic, often accusing random women and men of causing the death of someone from the village.

According to the Amnesty International, at least 50 people were killed in ‘sorcery’ attacks in 2008. Despite the fact that men can also be victims, it is six times more likely for women. When those ‘sanguma’ (witches) people being tortured, locals cut their bodies with machetes and axes, burning them with hot iron bars, forcing to admit that they were involved in witchcraft. If the victims survive, they would be expelled from the community permanently. Despite this widespread violence, the PNG Government does not have a program to help victims of sorcery-related violence nor provides any shelter for those women and men. It is very rare such cases are brought to court and sometimes even police are involved in witch hunt, supporting the perpetrators, not the victims.