Modern persecution of witches

It’s not news to us here at Doubtful News that people are still attacked with accusations of witchcraft, even children, but mostly women. It’s a significant problem in some African nations and in Papua New Guinea. The NY Times has an expose on the prevalence and probable INCREASE in violence against alleged witches that is happening in this so-called modern time.

The Persecution of Witches, 21st-Century Style –

Most people believe that the persecution of “witches” reached its height in the early 1690s with the trials in Salem, Mass., but it is a grim paradox of 21st-century life that violence against people accused of sorcery is very much still with us. Far from fading away, thanks to digital interconnectedness and economic development, witch hunting has become a growing, global problem.

In recent years, there has been a spate of attacks against people accused of witchcraft in Africa, the Pacific and Latin America, and even among immigrant communities in the United States and Western Europe. Researchers with United Nations refugee and human rights agencies have estimated the murders of supposed witches as numbering in the thousands each year, while beatings and banishments could run into the millions. “This is becoming an international problem — it is a form of persecution and violence that is spreading around the globe,” Jeff Crisp, an official with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told a panel in 2009, the last year in which an international body studied the full dimensions of the problem. A report that year from the same agency and a Unicef study in 2010 both found a rise, especially in Africa, of violence and child abuse linked to witchcraft accusations.

The Salem witchcraft trials only lasted one year, 1692, and took the lives of 19 people. Hundreds more were accused. But it is not quite the same level as what is occurring in parts of the world where people are attacked, burned alive, or mutilated by vigilantes who take matters into their own hands.

Victims are often burned alive, as in Ms. Leniata’s case and a 2012 case in Nepal; or accused women are sometimes beaten to death, as occurred in the Colombian town of Santa Barbara in 2012; or the victims may be stoned or beheaded, as has been reported in Indonesia and sub-Saharan Africa.

This piece examines the possible causes that spark this violence, mostly against women, making this both an issue of civil rights and anti-superstition. Also mentioned is the notorious preacher Helen Ukpabio who advocates killing children witches. She has had trouble taking her show on the road with views like that. Modern countries don’t want her there. But the dark superstitions follow immigrants to their new modern countries with one of the most publicized cases being that of Kristy Bamu killed by his family in London.

Churches promote witch hunting. Photo from Leo Igwe

Churches promote witch hunting. Photo from Leo Igwe

Women and children are being run out of their own villages by the threat of violence, with nowhere to go.

This is a really important piece. Read it, save it, and use it to show that there is much work to do by those who KNOW the harm such superstitions and beliefs can cause.

A crowd watches Helen Rumbali, a woman accused of witchcraft, being burned alive. Photo credit: Post Courier

A crowd watches Helen Rumbali, a woman accused of witchcraft, being burned alive. Photo credit: Post Courier

Witchcraft accusations – Still killing women over 300 years later | Doubtful News.

Children suffering abuse in Congo, accused of witchcraft | Doubtful News.

Leo Igwe partners with JREF to respond to witchcraft problem in Africa | Doubtful News.

  6 comments for “Modern persecution of witches

  1. Ben Radford
    July 8, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    Good commentary, and good story at the NYTimes link as well. A great example of “What’s the Harm?” and one I try to highlight when I can.

  2. Peebs
    July 8, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    I realise DT and the NYT are Americocentric (I may have made that word up) but I disagree about most people believe “it hit it’s height in the 1690’s” at Salem.

    This side of the pond we had our own, self proclaimed, ‘Witchfinder General’.

  3. July 8, 2014 at 7:12 PM

    Hopkins is who I think of whenever I see a “heroic witch hunter” in pop culture (the movie Warlock springs most readily to mind), and it makes my teeth grind.

    What makes them grind worse, however, are these huckster preachers actively encouraging this bloody-minded nonsense. Fanning the hatred. I can’t say much more without falling into a stream of invective.

  4. busterggi
    July 9, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    As long as there are ducks…

  5. Kiljoy616
    July 11, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    Unarmed and helpless what can I say that how the world roles. What ever can be said about the people doing this is a waste of time and fantasy driven. Only violence or some kind of punishment stops these people from doing there deed talk is cheap.

  6. Troodon Roar
    July 14, 2014 at 2:05 AM

    Wow. It’s truly sad how ignorance and superstition can lead to innocent people losing their lives.

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