Publications

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

UK: Controversial ‘witch hunter’ Helen Ukpabio comes to London

A controversial Evangelical Christian and “witch hunter” arrives in the UK in the hope of performing exorcisms on children. But in Nigeria witch scares have resulted in violence, torture and death.

The founder of the bizarre Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries has been accused of exploiting superstitious beliefs around demonic possession and endangering children. Claiming to be a former witch, Ukpabio has advised parents; “If a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health he or she is a servant of Satan.”

Read more here

Witchcraft Accusations – Violence & Torture

Accusations of ‘Witchcraft’ – Women & Girls with disabilities, by Stephanie Ortoleva, President of Women Enabled, Inc

The 2012 report of Rashida Manjoo, UN Special rapporteur on Violence Against Women, focused on gender-related killings of women and pointedly states: “Rather than a new form of violence, gender-related killings are the extreme manifestation of existing forms of violence against women. Culturally and socially embedded, these manifestations continue to be accepted, tolerated or justified — with impunity as the norm.”

Read the report here

Effectiveness of IEC interventions in reducing HIV/AIDS related stigma among high school adolescents in Hawassa, Southern Ethiopia, 2008

Misconceptions on HIV transmission and prevention, stigmatizing and discriminatory attitudes were prevalent among the adolescents. Remarkable reduction in HIV related misconceptions, stigmatizing and discriminatory attitudes were observed. Hence, campaigns using combined IEC interventions on HIV/AIDS need to be intensified to dispel some of the prevailing misconceptions and associated stigma and discrimination among school adolescents.

See full article here.

Epilepsy-associated stigma in sub-Saharan Africa: The social landscape of a disease, 2005

Many studies in developed regions of the world have confirmed that stigma contributes substantially to the psychological and social burden of epilepsy. Relatively few studies of epilepsy-associated stigma have been conducted in Africa, where much of the world’s burden of epilepsy exists. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), particularly in rural regions, close family ties, communal living situations, and traditional belief systems undoubtedly influence the expression of stigmatization. A review of the epidemiologic, anthropologic, and sociologic studies of epilepsy in SSA provides significant insights into how people with epilepsy (PWE) are per- ceived by their communities and families and how these perceptions translate into limited social and economic opportunities and possibly worsen the physical vulnerability of PWE in this region. The medical community is not exempt from the social process of stigmatization, and poor public health infrastructure and medical services undoubtedly contribute to the cycle of epilepsy-asso- ciated stigma through wide treatment gaps, poor seizure control, and high rates of seizure-related injury. In this review, we extrapolate data from existing studies of epilepsy in SSA coupled with our own experience providing epilepsy care in the region to give an overview of the social landscape of this common, devastating condition.

See full paper here

Witchcraft and Displacement

There is a longstanding and well-documented relationship between human displacement and witchcraft allegations. The Policy Development and Evaluation Service (PDES) has undertaken a very rapid assessment of the current state of knowledge about refugee protection and witchcraft allegations.

See full report here.

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.

See full report here

 

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.

See full article here

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.

See full article here

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.

See full report here