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Presentation on theme: "WOMEN'S UN REPORT NETWORK - WUNRN® UN Human Rights Council Session 25 - Panel WITCHCRAFT ACCUSATIONS - VIOLENCE & TORTURE – WOMEN & CHILDREN March 10,"— Presentation transcript:


2 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 boom’s unfulfilled expectations. Women are blamed, accused of sorcery and branded as witches — with horrific consequences.

3 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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:mean WITCHCRAFT The use of magical powers obtained especially from evil spirits INDIA - WOMEN ACCUSED OF WITCHCRAFT IN ORISSA STATE

4 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® USA - HISTORICAL WITCHCRAFT ACCUSATIONS Witch hunt: Salem became famous for hanging 20 women accused of being witches in the 1690s – Daily Mail Online

6 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 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.


9 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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: January 2009 The UN Refugee Agency Policy Development and Evaluation Service

10 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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


12 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 girl’s 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 them—a 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 Zárate’s 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 boy’s death through sorcery.

20 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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, PNG’s 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® INDIA - PROTECTIVE LAWS FALL SHORT FOR WOMEN CHARGED WITH WITCHCRAFT 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 woman’s death. 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 8:00 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.

25 WOMEN’S UN REPORT NETWORK WUNRN® 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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