News

WHRIN Releases Latest UN Report 2017

Witchcraft Accusations and Persecution; Muti Murders and Human Sacrifice:Harmful Beliefs and Practices Behind a Global Crisis in Human Rights

This report was specifically compiled for the United Nations Expert Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights, in Geneva on 21st and 22nd September 2017.

The report outlines a study of all recorded online cases of human rights abuses linked to beliefs in witchcraft, muti and human sacrifice in 2016.  It aims to provide some background understanding into the work carried out by the United Nations on these issues to date; outline the current scale of the abuses of human rights that are taking place across the world due such harmful beliefs and practices; identify emerging trends and, finally, act as a call to action for all UN, Government and civil society agencies working on these issues to redouble their efforts to develop solutions to prevent further abuses from taking place.

The full report can be downloaded HERE

Research Project with University of Sussex Launched

As part of WHRIN’s commitment to support practitioners to gain a better understanding of how beliefs in witchcraft and spirit possession impact on the lives of those accused, and their siblings, in the UK, we are partnering with the University of Sussex to research these issues in more depth. This is ground-breaking research and we need your help if we are to ensure that survivors of abuse, their families and the practitioners working to support them get the support they need. So, if you have experience of working on such cases, have a family member who was accused of witchcraft or thought to have been possessed by evil spirits, or have direct experience of these issues yourself, please read below for more information and contact us on the details below. Thanks in advance for any support that you may be able to offer here!

Study title – Accusations of spirit possession and witchcraft against children: how this is experienced by those who are accused and their siblings who are not accused.

Researcher Details 

Leethen Bartholomew is carrying out his doctoral studies at the University of Sussex. He has been a social worker for the past 19 years and for 11 of these years he has worked with families where a child has been accused of being possessed by evil spirits or witchcraft. Leethen is also WHRIN’s lead trainer on these issues and has provided training to thousands of practitioners across the UK.  He is deeply committed to increasing awareness of the issue amongst professionals and communities in the hope that children and young people are better protected and supported.

What is the purpose of the research?

Over the past two decades in the UK, there has been a number of high profile cases involving children who have been accused by their parent or carer of being possessed or being a witch. Some of these children have been harmed and consequently taken into social services care. In a number of these cases their brothers or sisters witnessed them being harmed; sometimes children who were not accused were taken into care too. In most cases, not only the accused child but also their sibling(s) are likely to have been affected by what happened.For example, in a number of high profile cases in the UK, the siblings of those accused have witnessed abuse, been accused themselves and/or undergone serious psychological, emotional and physical distress. We need to understand what this is like for each of them, so that we can  better protect them and respond to their needs. The study aims to do that.

How you can help

As you may appreciate, this is a highly sensitive, and therefore, important, subject area and we really need your help if we are to develop the understanding needed to ensure that vulnerable members of society are better protected and supported. All information will be treated with confidentiality and advice and guidance can be provided by Leethen where needed.

Please email Leethen on l.bartholomew@sussex.ac.uk or call him 07947 366795 if you would like to know more information about how you can take part in this research project.

Thanks in advance for any support that you may be able to offer here and we look forward to hearing from you.

UN Human Rights Council Event – Witchcraft and Human Rights Expert Workshop

 

On September 21st and 22nd 2017, WHRIN, together with the UN Independent Expert on Albinism and Lancaster University, organised the first ever UN Expert Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights at the UN Human Rights Council. Co-organizers for the event were the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children, and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.

The workshop was ground-breaking and the first of its kind at the UN or international level. It brought together UN Experts, academics and members of civil society to discuss the violence associated with such beliefs and practices and groups that are particularly vulnerable. The event highlighted the various manifestations of witchcraft beliefs and practice, including accusations, stigma, and ritual killings, before identifying good practice in combating such practices. The event marked an important step towards mainstreaming the issue into the UN Human Rights system, whilst providing impetus and practical guidance to the numerous international and regional mechanisms, academics and civil society actors that have been working to raise awareness and understanding of these challenging issues.

Whilst the workshop marked an important step in the fight to prevent more human rights abuses taking places due to beliefs in witchcraft, it is important that we use it as a springboard to TAKE MORE ACTION and keep the momentum up behind the movement that our network is creating. Please click HERE to see how WHRIN intends to support this happening.

More details about the UN Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights can be found below:

TV Coverage – You can view the entire workshop online via UN Web TV via the following links:

Preliminary Findings – A presentation of the preliminary findings from the workshop can be found here. A full report on the findings from the workshop will be compiled and submitted to the UN Human Rights Council by early 2018. WHRIN will look to update the network on progress here.

Photos – A slideshow of the photos of the event can be found here. With sincere thanks to Don Sawatsky from Under the Same Sun.

Press Coverage – The workshop was widely covered in the International Media. Please see links below:

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Publicity Video of the Workshop 

Remarks by Kate Gilmore, Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

UN Special Representative to the Secretary General on Violence Against Children welcomes commitment to tackle impunity for witchcraft related human rights violations and to children’s protection from violence

Experts Propose Steps to End Practices Related to Witchcraft

UN moves against witchcraft, abuse of human rights, others

The Trade in Body Parts of People with Albinism is Driven by Myth and International Inaction

 

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 

South Africa: Juju’s hold on trafficking victims

“The spirits, they will know and they will kill me.” This fear of the spirits, known as “Juju”, was expressed by a 16-year-old girl who refused to tell her rescuer who had trafficked her from Nigeria to Madrid.

According to experts speaking at a conference on human trafficking in Johannesburg yesterday, Juju is commonly used by Nigerian traffickers to silence their victims and scare them into not escaping. The conference was arranged in response to the lack of information, especially statistics, on human trafficking.

Read more here

Kuwait: Pinay worker in Kuwait accused of being a witch, mauled by employer

Monica (not her real name) is a 35-year-old overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who has been working in the Middle East for a little more than 16 years…

Monica’s “lucky charm” is described in reports as …”dried amniotic sac or caul wrapped in a red cloth.” She explained that this had come from the birth of one of her children…

One day, Monica’s male employer happened to be searching her bag. Monica relates he went berserk when he found her lucky charm. He thought it was a tool used for witchcraft. He accused Monica of practicing black magic or sorcery. Under Kuwaiti law, sorcery or witchcraft is considered a crime.

Read more here

India: Man sentenced to life for killing woman suspecting her as witch

A man was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district today for killing a woman suspecting her to be a witch.

Additional District Judge, Baripada, Asanta Kumar Das held Prafulla Santara, a tribal of Badabhalia village, guilty for killing Jhunumani Santara (25) of the same village on October 6, 2011.

According to prosecution, Prafulla had beaten Jhunumani to death with a stick as he suspected that she was practising witchcraft that led to ailments in his family.

Read more here

Kenya: Stopping Witch Burning In Kenya?

Last Sunday, a 45 year old woman, Christine Jemeli Koech, was accused of witchcraft. A neighbour claimed that Koech, a mother of six had been responsible for her child’s illness. A local mob stormed Koech’s house early in the morning while she was asleep. They murdered her and burnt her body. This gruesome practice of lynching continues in the East African country of Kenya.

According to media reports, the neighbour has been arrested but the people who carried out the killing are still at large.

Read more here 

USA: Bible Passage on Human Sacrifice Potentially Linked With Woman’s Alleged Murder of Toddler

Authorities are investigating whether a Florida woman accused of murdering her ex-partner’s 2-year-old daughter was prompted to do so from her interpretation of an Old Testament passage.

On Sunday, Kymberley Dawn Lucas and her ex-partner’s two children, Elliana Lucas-Jamason and Ethan Jameson, attended a service at Metropolitan Community Church in Jupiter, Florida, where pastor Lea Brown taught on Genesis 22. The biblical narrative tells a story where God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, before God accepts a goat instead of the boy at the last minute.

One line of a note found by authorities on Lucas’ computer read “Lea’s sermon really, really touched me yesterday, but God never told me to stop!”

Read more here

India: Man ‘sacrificed’ for ritual three years ago comes ‘alive’

A 25-year-old man, who was allegedly kidnapped and sacrificed about three years ago, has resurfaced – alive and kicking, leaving everyone, including police and those who were booked for his murder, puzzled.

Read more here