Written media on witch-hunts


Witch-hunts are illegal and must be condemned

Damon Leff | 23 March 2012 | Mail & Guardian

Witch-hunts are common in Africa. Historically, they have been viewed as gender specific because a large number of the victims have been elderly, solitary women, although recent reports show that victims include both women and men of all ages. The frequent result of witchcraft accusations is tragic human rights abuses, because the victims are presumed guilty without undergoing a legal inquiry. In South Africa it is illegal to accuse anyone of witchcraft. During the 30-day campaign, which runs from March 29 to April 27, the alliance will be appealing to every­one to condemn witch-hunts. Human rights are for all, including the victims of witch-hunts.


Concerns raised by witchcraft accusations and witch-hunts in South Africa

Damon Leff | 03 February 2013 | SAPRA

Stakeholder Submission prepared by the South African Pagan Rights Alliance for the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities.The vast majority of victims of accusation of witchcraft, both deceased and still living, in South Africa are essentially being denied their legal right to all constitutional rights.


The Reality of Burning ‘Witches’

Jason Pitzl-Waters | 07 February 2013 | The Wild Hunt

I fear that some of us living in the developed “first” world have developed a tendency to romanticize the European witch persecutions of the early modern period, a time where between 35 to 65 thousand men and women were killed for crimes of sorcery and witchcraft.It was so long ago that we have taken to fictionalizing the witch-hunts in films like “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” “Black Death,” and “Season of the Witch.” Blurring the line beyond mere romanticization into utter fantasy, a fantasy fed by the very lies used to initially convict those men and women. This fantasy is problematic not only for the way it warps history in the minds of the uncurious, but because witch-hunting has never stopped. The witch-hunts in Europe may have ended generations ago, but in other parts of the world they are still burning innocents. 


It’s 2013, And They’re Burning ‘Witches’

Jo Chandler | 15 February 2013 | The Global Mail

Belief in black magic persists in Papua New Guinea, where communities are warping under the pressure of the mining boom’s unfulfilled expectations. Women are blamed, accused of sorcery and branded as witches — with horrific consequences.Despite a lack of data and the suspicion that only a fraction of incidents are ever reported, the 2012 Law Reform Commission examination of sorcery-related attacks concluded that they have been rising since the 1980s. It estimated about 150 cases of violence and killings are occurring each year in just one volatile province, Simbu — wild, prime coffee country deep in the nation’s rugged spine.Figures vary enormously but volumes of published reports by UN agencies, Amnesty International, Oxfam and anthropologists provide unequivocal evidence that attacks on accused sorcerers and witches — sometimes men, but most commonly women — are frequent, ferocious and often fatal.


The Advocacy – Art for Human Rights

Morgause Fonteleve | 15 March 2013 | Off the Cuff | Penton Independent Pagan Media

On 15 March 2013, Morgause Fonteleve, Convener for the SAPC and CEO for SAPRA, addressed the CRL Commission and a body of UNISA students, at the NG Church Hall, and invited the community to attend the opening of the ‘The Advocacy’ exhibition the following day at Caster Bridge, White River. She highlighted that the focus of the month long exhibit was on the violation of Human Rights, in particular the violation of the same in our country and in the province of Mpumalanga. The aim at promoting Justice and equity in our Country. She asked them to put aside the discussion of personal religious rights, culture and language and to delve deeper into a pressing matter, that of witchcraft accusations, which has reached epidemic proportions in our country and which is rife in the Province of Mpumalanga. ‘The Advocacy’ was a collaboration of several South African Artists, united against the violation of Human Rights in particular the brutality of witch hunts.


Warriors Against Witch Hunts: An Interview with Damon Leff

Heather Freysdottir | 17 September 2013 | Loki’s Bruid

In South Africa and other African countries generally, accusations of witchcraft and violent witch-hunts are an almost daily occurrence. The victims of accusation are however not actual or real Witches at all, and none of the victims have ever self-identified as Pagan or pagan. The victims of accusation and human rights abuses who survive have never self-identified as Witches. This holds true for every country in Africa. Actual Pagan Witches in South Africa, the majority of whom are still Caucasian, have not to my knowledge ever experienced witch-hunts and are not subjected to the same level of hysterical accusation we find amongst largely black communities. But the underlying mechanisms that fuel witch-hunts do result in prejudice against self-identifying Witches. This kind of prejudice manifests in non-violent ways as discrimination in the work-place, bias against parties in custody battles who identify as Pagans, hostility and suspicion against children who identify as Pagans in public schools.


Victims of witch-hunts in South Africa remain ignored

Damon Leff | 23 January 2014 | Media for Justice

Republished 04 February 2014 | Minority Review | Penton Independent Pagan Media

South African media, with very few exceptions, has paid scant attention to ongoing witch-hunts and even less to advocacy against witchcraft accusations in this country. Mainstream media’s refusal to focus attention on both accusations and campaigns to end witch-hunts reflects our government’s own denial of ongoing human rights abuses that result from false accusations of bewitchment. Any attempt to end accusations of witchcraft must begin with challenging the actual beliefs that continue to motivate such accusations. This cannot happen if media continues to ignore the issues or chooses instead to promote only prejudicial stereotypes and unproven allegations.


Next: UNHCR, UNICEF & SA CRL Rights Commission condemn witch-hunts