Wednesday, August 23, 2017

United Nations to Address Witch Hunting

Witchcraft persecution is still alive and well in many parts of the world today. As I've mentioned many times, I'm quite happy that I live here in the United States where I can have a blog talking about magical rituals and not have to worry about angry mobs showing up at my front door. According to this article from The Wild Hunt, the United Nations is creating a new human rights office to focus on “accusations of witchcraft and ritualistic killings.” While the UN is not always as effective as one might hope, this is a good first step towards addressing the problem at an international level.

While horrifying in their number and in their presented detail, the readily-available articles only share the stories making news. Experts agree that many witchcraft-related incidents go completely unnoticed and unreported. As a result, the statistics on witchcraft-related violence are unreliable. Nobody knows just has bad it is.

Although the published reports do regularly populate the international news media, this human rights crisis has gotten very little attention on the international political scene. To date, most of the work has been done by private organizations, such as the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) and Under the Same Sun.

Or it is being handled by local governments, such as in the creation and enforcement of anti-witchcraft accusation laws. Over the past ten years, an increasing number of countries have, in fact, instituted such laws, including Papua New Guinea, India, South Africa, Tanzania, and others. In 2018, Liberia will play host to a new U.N. human rights office that will reportedly help the country’s government better address, in part, the “accusations of witchcraft and ritualistic killings.”

While these organizations, individuals, and governments appear to making some headway in an effort to stem the tide of abuse, the crisis has yet to be touched on the collective international level. Until now. The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold, for the very first time, a special two day workshop on witchcraft-related human rights violations.

To be clear, there are unscrupulous magical practitioners in the world who commit crimes. Despite government efforts, for example, albinos are still being killed in countries like Kenya and Tanzania because it is believed that their body parts have magical powers. But my point is that the perpetrators should be punished for the crimes they commit, not simply for practicing magick. If you kill an albino for their body parts, that's murder and it shouldn't make any difference whether you did it in connection with a ritual or were just upset with them. You should be sentenced according to the crime in either case.

So here's hoping that this new office will get results and reduce some of the senseless violence meted out against suspected "witches." People should have the right to practice their spirituality as they see fit, magical or otherwise.

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