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WOMEN'S UN REPORT NETWORK - WUNRN

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Title: WOMEN'S UN REPORT NETWORK - WUNRN


1
  • WOMEN'S UN REPORT NETWORK - WUNRN
  •  
  • UN Human Rights Council Session 25 - Panel
  • WITCHCRAFT ACCUSATIONS - VIOLENCE TORTURE
    WOMEN CHILDREN
  • March 10, 2014
  • Geneva, Switzerland

2

PAPUA NEW GUINEA - WOMAN ACCUSED AS WITCH IS
BURNED ALIVE
Photo - Vlad Sokhin - Global Mail 2013 - Belief
in black magic persists in Papua New Guinea,
where communities are warping under the pressure
of the mining booms unfulfilled expectations.
Women are blamed, accused of sorcery and branded
as witches with horrific consequences.
3

India - Women Accused of Witchcraft in Orissa
State
WITCH 1.A person, now especially a woman, who
professes or is supposed to practice witchcraft,
sorcery or black magic 2.An ugly or mean old
woman hag WITCHCRAFT The use of magical powers
obtained especially from evil spirits
4

Witches in the 21st Century Throughout history,
people described as witches have been persecuted,
tortured and murdered and the practice continues
Every year, thousands of people, mostly older
women and children are accused as witches, often
abused , cast out of their families and
communities, sometimes trafficked into
slavery, even tortured and murdered. As Special
Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary
Executions, Philip Alston said in a Report to the
UN Human Rights Council In too many settings,
being classified as a witch is tantamount to
receiving a death sentence. The persecution
and killing of individuals accused of practicing
so-called witchcraft the vast majority of
whom are women and children is a significant
phenomenon in many parts of the world. The
response to witchcraft frequently involves
serious and systematic forms of discrimination,
he says, especially on the grounds of gender,
age and disability. The families of the witches
are also often subjected to serious human rights
violations.
5

USA - Historical Witchcraft Accusations
Witch hunt Salem became famous for hanging 20
women accused of being witches in the 1690s
Daily Mail Online
6

European Witch-Hunts, 1450-1750
For three centuries of early modern European
history, diverse societies were consumed by a
panic over alleged witches in their midst.
Witch-hunts, especially in Central Europe,
resulted in the trial, torture, and execution of
tens of thousands of victims, about
three-quarters of whom were women. Arguably,
neither before nor since have adult European
women been selectively targeted for such
largescale atrocities.
7

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women New York, 18
December 1979 Introduction On 18 December 1979,
the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women was adopted by the
United Nations General Assembly. It entered into
force as an international treaty on 3 September
1981 after the twentieth country had ratified it.
By the tenth anniversary of the Convention in
1989, almost one hundred nations have agreed to
be bound by its provisions. The Convention was
the culmination of more than thirty years of work
by the United Nations Commission on the Status of
Women, a body established in 1946 to monitor the
situation of women and to promote women's rights.
The Commission's work has been instrumental in
bringing to light all the areas in which women
are denied equality with men. These efforts for
the advancement of women have resulted in several
declarations and conventions, of which the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women is the central and
most comprehensive document. Among the
international human rights treaties, the
Convention takes an important place in bringing
the female half of humanity into the focus of
human rights concerns. The spirit of the
Convention is rooted in the goals of the United
Nations to reaffirm faith in fundamental human
rights, in the dignity,v and worth of the human
person, in the equal rights of men and women. The
present document spells out the meaning of
equality and how it can be achieved. In so doing,
the Convention establishes not only an
international bill of rights for women, but also
an agenda for action by countries to guarantee
the enjoyment of those rights. In its preamble,
the Convention explicitly acknowledges that
"extensive discrimination against women continues
to exist", and emphasizes that such
discrimination "violates the principles of
equality of rights and respect for human
dignity". As defined in article 1, discrimination
is understood as "any distinction, exclusion or
restriction made o.1 the basis of sex...in the
political, economic, social, cultural, civil or
any other field". The Convention gives positive
affirmation to the principle of equality by
requiring States parties to take "all appropriate
measures, including legislation, to ensure the
full development and advancement of women, for
the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and
enjoyment of human rights and fundamental
freedoms on a basis of equality with men"(article
3). The agenda for equality is specified in
fourteen subsequent articles. In its approach,
the Convention covers three dimensions of the
situation of women. Civil rights and the legal
status of women are dealt with in great detail.
In addition, and unlike other human rights
treaties, the Convention is also concerned with
the dimension of human reproduction as well as
with the impact of cultural factors on gender
relations.
8

GHANA OLDER WOMAN IN CAMP FOR WOMEN ACCUSED OF
WITCHCRAFT
9

NEW ISSUES IN REFUGEE RESEARCH Research Paper
No. 169 Witchcraft allegations, refugee
protection and human rights a review of the
evidence Jill Schnoebelen E-mail
jill_schnoebelen_at_yahoo.com January 2009
The UN Refugee Agency Policy Development
and Evaluation Service
10

Nigeria 'Child-Witches' Seek Refuge Mary is a
pretty five-year-old girl with big brown eyes and
a father who kicked her out onto the streets in
one of the most dangerous parts of the world. Her
crime the local priest had denounced her as a
witch and blamed her "evil powers" for causing
her mother's death.  
Children from Crarn accused of being witches and
wizards, protesting outside the Governor's
headquarters. Photo Mags Gavan, Redrebel Films
11

12

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Adopted and opened for signature, ratification
and accession by General Assembly resolution
44/25 of 20 November 1989 entry into force 2
September 1990, in accordance with article
49 Preamble The States Parties to the present
Convention, Considering that, in accordance
with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of
the United Nations, recognition of the inherent
dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights
of all members of the human family is the
foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the
world, Bearing in mind that the peoples of the
United Nations have, in the Charter, reaffirmed
their faith in fundamental human rights and in
the dignity and worth of the human person, and
have determined to promote social progress and
better standards of life in larger freedom,
Recognizing that the United Nations has, in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the
International Covenants on Human Rights,
proclaimed and agreed that everyone is entitled
to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein,
without distinction of any kind, such as race,
colour, sex, language, religion, political or
other opinion, national or social origin,
property, birth or other status, Recalling
that, in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, the United Nations has proclaimed that
childhood is entitled to special care and
assistance,
13

Albino Child Witchcraft Accusations by Occult
Beliefs in Africa
A teenage Tanzanian albino girl sits in a
dormitory in a government-run school. (Photo Ho
New/Reuters) In a village in Tanzania, a man
crept into a 5-year-old girls room and did
something unspeakable.  Raising a machete over
the girl, an albino child, he cut off her legs to
later drink blood from them and possibly consume
thema practice witchdoctors told him could heal
his body and bring better fortune. The girl, left
to die, succumbed to her injuries not long after,
GlobalPost reports. The ritual murder of an
albino child is a crime that has been committed
multiple times over the past several years.
14

Child Witches - "Business of Exorcism - Trauma,
Terror for Accused Children
Many of the branded "child-witches" are murdered
- hacked to death with machetes, poisoned,
drowned, or buried alive in an attempt to drive
Satan out of their soul. The devil's children
are "identified" by powerful religious leaders at
extremist churches where religious beliefs have
combined to produce a deep-rooted belief in, and
fear of, witchcraft. The priests spread the
message that child-witches bring destruction,
disease and death to their families. And they say
that, once possessed, children can cast spells
and contaminate others. The religious leaders
offer help to the families whose children are
named as witches, but at a price. The churches
run exorcism, or "deliverance", evenings where
the pastors attempt to drive out the evil
spirits. Only they have the power to cleanse the
child of evil spirits, they say. The exorcism
costs the families up to a year's income.
During the "deliverance" ceremonies, the
children are shaken violently, dragged around the
room and have potions poured into their eyes. The
children look terrified. The parents look on,
praying that the child will be cleansed. If the
ritual fails, they know their children will have
to be sent away, or killed. Many are held in
churches, often on chains, and deprived of food
until they "confess" to being a witch. The
ceremonies are highly lucrative for the spiritual
leaders many of whom enjoy a lifestyle of large
homes, expensive cars and designer clothes.
15

WHO IS MOST VULNERABLE TO ACCUSATIONS OF
WITCHCRAFT
  • Older Women
  • Widows
  • Scapegoated Persons without Defense    
  • Homeless Women Children Street Children
  • Persons of Religions or Beliefs including
    Witchcraft, Sorcery, Evil Spirits
  • Persons Without Family Support
  • Victims of Jealousies, Competition
  • Refugees Displaced
  • Indigenous Minorities
  • Disabled Handicapped
  • Extremely Poor
  • Child Laborers
  • Former Child Soldiers
  • Mentally Ill Persons
  • Potential Victims of Land Grabbing

16

India - Branding Women As "Witches" To Capture
Land Property
Sushila Devi and other women, labeled as
"witches," after their testimonies of
victimization at the tribunal. (Credit Tripti
Nath\WFS)
17

Peru - Woman Accused of Witchcraft Beaten to
Death
A 68-year-old woman was beaten to death by a
group of citizen patrol members (called
ronderos) in the La Libertad region of Peru.
The group reportedly killed her because they
suspected that the woman was using black magic to
kill her own son. Local legal authorities have
ordered the arrest of three ronderos who are
suspected to have been involved in Zárates
death. RPP reports that the ronderos maintain
that the woman died from a pre-existing illness
and not because of any physical punishments
inflicted by the group.
18

NEPAL DALIT WOMAN ASSAULTED, PUBLICALLY
HUMILIATED AND FORCED TO EAT HUMAN EXCRETA The
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received
information concerning the case of a Dalit woman
who was assaulted, publically humiliated and
forced to eat her own excreta by the villagers.
It is reported that Mrs. Kalli Kumari was accused
of practising witchcraft by the villagers, who
confined Kumari in a room for two days, tortured
and forced her to confess that she practiced
witchcraft.
19

Papua New Guinea - No Justice for Woman Burned
Alive in "Sorcery" Attack
2014 - The failure of the Papua New Guinea
authorities to bring the killers of a woman who
was burned alive to justice, underlines their
complete failure to address sorcery attacks,
Amnesty International said on the first
anniversary of her death. Twenty-year-old Kepari
Leniata was stripped, tied up, doused in petrol
and burned alive by relatives of a boy who had
died following an illness in the city of Mount
Hagen. The attackers claimed Kepari had caused
the boys death through sorcery.
20

UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women
Statement at the End of 2012 Mission to Papua New
Guinea Excerpt "As regards violence against
women in the community, I received alarming
reports of violence perpetrated against persons
accused of sorcery/witchcraft, with women being
affected disproportionally, particularly widows
or other women with no family to protect them."
"During my visit to the Highlands region, I was
shocked to witness the brutality of the assaults
perpetrated against suspected sorcerers, which in
many cases include torture, rape, mutilations and
murder. According to many interviewees, sorcery
accusations are commonly used to deprive women of
their land and/or their property. Also any
misfortune or death within the community can be
used as an excuse to accuse such person of being
a sorcerer. I was informed that sorcery related
violence is commonly perpetrated by young men or
boys who act under the orders of other members of
the community, and they commonly do so under the
influence of drugs or alcohol, which is provided
by such persons. Factors at the community level
which allow for impunity for perpetrators
include the unwillingness to intervene prior to,
or during, such attacks fear of reporting and/or
providing information to the police and the use
of the one-talk (wantok) solidarity tradition."
21

Papua New Guinea Appalling Violence against Six
Women in Easter Witch-Hunt 2013 - Authorities
in Papua New Guinea must take urgent action to
prevent and punish sorcery-related violence,
following reports six women were abducted and
subjected to acts of appalling cruelty by a
 group who accused them of witchcraft.  Komape
Lap from the Southern Highlands claims he and six
women had their hands tied, were stripped naked
and had hot iron rods pushed into their genitals.
Komape Lap escaped but the fate of the six women
is unknown.  The attack is reported to have taken
place on 28 March in an Easter witch-hunt,
according to local media. The police have
confirmed they are investigating the
incident.  The priority must be to find out the
fate of the six women. The perpetrators must also
be brought to justice for the abduction and
crimes of sexual and other violence, if
confirmed, said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty
International's Pacific researcher. "The
government must take urgent action to prevent any
further sorcery-related violence and must also
provide the survivors with support and full
access to health and other services said Kate
Schuetze.  Sorcery is often used as pretext to
commit violence against women. Repealing the
Sorcery Act is one of the first urgent steps the
authorities must take towards preventing further
horrific attacks."  Last month, PNGs
Constitutional and Law Reform Commission also
called on the government to repeal the Sorcery
Act 1971, which criminalizes the practice of
forbidden sorcery.  The reports are the latest
in a series of attacks against people accused of
sorcery, which in most cases have resulted in
women being murdered. In February,
twenty-year-old Kepari Leniata was stripped, tied
up, doused in petrol and burned alive by
relatives of a young boy she was accused of using
witchcraft to kill. Two people were charged as a
result of this incident. 
22

The Trauma Torture of Witchcraft Accusations
Must STOP Throughout history, and continuing in
modern times, people described as witches have
been persecuted, tortured and murdered and the
practice continues Every year, thousands of
people, mostly older women and children are
accused as witches, often abused, cast out of
their families and communities, sometimes
trafficked into slavery, even tortured
and murdered.
23

LEGAL AID FOR WOMEN ACCUSED AS WITCHES IN
BURKINA FASO   A British-based global charity
caring for older people, HelpAge International,
asked Advocates for International Development
(A4ID) to help in Burkina Faso where it had been
trying to raise awareness about the plight of
women who've fallen victim to witchcraft
allegations. It is often the widows, or the
older, poorer or disabled women and those
unprotected by male relatives who are most
vulnerable to witchcraft accusations. At best,
they face banishment from their communities. At
worst, they may be tortured or even
killed. HelpAge has called for protection and
redress to be provided for those accused of
sorcery in the West African country. A4ID
found three law firms which were tasked with
analysing legislation on witchcraft claims in 12
countries in the Pacific, Asia and Africa. The
firms drew up legislative and other measures to
be taken to protect people from witchcraft
accusations in Burkina Faso.
24

India - Protective Laws Fall Short for Women
Charged with Witchcraft
Via Women News Network - The ancient tribal
people of India have a long tradition of belief
in witchcraft. Mita Bai, 34, will never
forget the day when at 800 am in the morning, a
group of three men and six women came to her
house with their allegations, branding her as, a
witch. As an attack against her broke out, she
cried out for help, but no one heard or heeded
her pleas. Instead, she was dragged from her
home, stripped of all her clothing, and nearly
hung from a tree. What was her crime? She was
accused of bringing misfortune to others in the
village as a practitioner of Dayan Pratha,
known in rural India as the practice of
witchcraft. Witch hunts are most common among
poor rural communities with little access to
education and health services, and longstanding
beliefs in witchcraft. When an individual gets
sick or harm befalls the community, the blame can
fall not upon a virus or crop disease, but upon
an alleged witch.
Greed for property is one motivation behind
witch-killings. Oppression of women as witches
can also be traced back to early social
communities in India. Local women, who fulfilled
the role of healer and counselor, were feared
when they became too powerful for the male
leadership to control.... Once a woman has been
accused of witchcraft inside her own society, it
is difficult for her to ever escape the stigma.
She can suffer severely the rest of her life. She
can be hurt at any time by ongoing public
humiliations that range from public beatings,
hair shavings, and acts of physical torture such
as being forced to go naked in public or to
perform acts of humiliation. Violence against
women accused of witchcraft can escalate into
serious actions that can lead to a womans death.
25

I AM NOT A WITCH - OLDER WOMAN'S VOICE
I am an older, an elderly, woman The lines on my
face show the seasons of my life. I am NOT a
WITCH.   My hair is grey, my skin sagging, Don't
attack me, humiliate and beat me. I am NOT a
creature of sorcery or black magic.   I don't
want to be sent away, feared, isolated Please
don't take my land, my little home. I want to
tell my grandchildren, stories of my life.   What
has happened to the respect for elders, To the
valuing of life from cradle to grave? I don't
cast spells, cause harm or pain.   I am an older
woman, but I am very much alive. Hear me, care
about me, help me, treasure me. I am NOT a
WITCH.   WUNRN
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