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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 In response to this the government recently repealed the sorcery act and passed a new law to allow the death penalty to be applied to such cases.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.

Onwards and upwards

Well, we are making some steady progress with developing WHRIN and our capacity to carry out our much needed work. Some great news came in last week when we were informed that we had be given an our first ever award by UnLtd in recognition of the good work we have been doing and the great potential that we have as a social enterprise. So a big and massive THANK YOU to all at UnLtd for showing such faith in WHRIN’s work. Please see here for more details about UnLtd.

Also since our last blog post WHRIN has received it’s first bit of UK publicity in the Lancaster Guardian no less! Please click here to see it.

We have also issued our first press release in response to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ recent statement on the plight of albinos killed for their body parts in Tanzania. You can see coverage of the press release here

WHRIN board member – Louise Meincke – has been spreading the word about our work in the corridors of power at the UN in Geneva and we have received some encouraging feedback about our work from various people. As WHRIN grows and develops over the coming months we will be looking at how we can best support local groups around the world to better engage with the UN. Watch this space for more details!

 

Still feeling excited, if a bit overwhelmed!

Well it has been a really interesting first couple of weeks at the helm of WHRIN. Lots of great contacts are being made around the world and it certainly feels like the organisation is moving in the right direction. We have various projects in the pipeline for 2013 such as developing country reports that will help to assess the scale of witchcraft accusations and human rights violations in different countries. It looks like the first country may be Nepal where accusations against women are widespread. We are looking to develop this report with Nepalese NGO – PPR Nepal- who have been active in this for some time now.

We are also looking forward to developing the training programme in the UK and I will be travelling to London next week to meet some experienced colleagues in order to discuss how we can develop an excellent programme for practitioners in the UK. Watch this space for more updates!

I must admit though that whilst I had some knowledge of the scale of the problem around the world I was quite unprepared for discovering the true scale of witchcraft accusations and the subsequent, often horrific, abuses that occur due to this belief. You will see from our Latest News page that there are cases being reported nearly every day and these must surely only represent the tip of the ice-berg and a very anglophone ice-berg at that! It can be quite depressing stuff to be honest, reading these reports regularly and I will be trying my best to keep us all sane and positive feeling by focusing as much as possible on the positive interventions taking place around the world over the coming weeks and months.

 

WHRIN Launch

I am delighted and excited to announce the formal (re) launch of WHRIN today 31st December 2012. We have chosen today to launch this exciting new social enterprise in order to mark the last day of the 400th Anniversary of the hangings of the Lancashire witches in my hometown of Lancaster, UK. WHRIN hopes to work with you to ensure that such incidences no longer occur anywhere around the world in another 400 years time.

Whilst we look forward to an exciting new year ahead with all the many interesting projects that WHRIN has planned we do so remembering the countless people around the world who face a less promising 2013. Thousands of people around the world this year will suffer gross violations of their rights, and sometimes death, due to the belief that they are “witches” or “possessed”. Most victims of such abuse will be the most vulnerable members of society – women, children, elderly and the disabled.  As WHRIN’s work develops and grows over the coming years, putting an end to the injustice faced by such people will remain our driving motivation.

I am really looking forward to working with you to build a vibrant network of committed people across the world. Please do get in touch if you have any ideas for how we may be best able to do this.

Wishing each of you a very happy and healthy 2013.

Gary

Founder/Executive Director

 

WHRIN Official (re) Launch to Come Soon

Watch this space!