Pejorative media coverage harms religious minority
Extract from SAPRA’s submission to the Press Freedom Commission on press freedom and the regulation of print media
Pejorative media coverage of Witchcraft by the South African media is symptomatic of generalized bias against anything related with the occult. Prejudicial reference to Witches and Witchcraft affects the dignity and standing of individual South African citizens who identify as Witches, and who identify Witchcraft as their religion, and it encourages further bias, prejudice and hostile discrimination against anyone falsely accused of being ‘a witch’ in this country.
For this reason and no other, SAPRA has repeatedly lodged objections against the pejorative and prejudicial use of the words ‘witch’ and ‘witchcraft’ in the South African media. The South African Press Ombudsman however has viewed this Alliance’s objections as nothing more than an attempt to proselytize our religion and has repeatedly dismissed any objections against the prejudicial and pejorative use of the terms ‘witch’ and ‘witchcraft by both online and print media.
In effect, citizens who actually identify as Witches are repeatedly denied any right to be presumed innocent of any wrongdoing, and may not claim any right to any dignity or religious equality.
The Ombudsman’s dismissal of SAPRA’s legitimate complaints against the pejorative use of terms claimed by an existing religious minority with which to identify their religion and religious orientation, has evoked and continues to evoke strong condemnation against the Press Ombudsman and newspaper editors, from South African Witches and supporting Pagans. Despite this, South African print and online media itself has once again refused to give this matter any coverage, despite being requested to do so by this Alliance.
South African citizens who are Witches, must be forgiven for believing that, as society’s ‘untouchables’, we have no right to access to a free and unbiased media in this country, simply because of our choice of belief. This surely makes a mockery of everything ‘Press Freedom’ stands for.