New research report on witchcraft-based violence in Malawi
Last updated: 07/08/2012 //
The report "The Extent and Nature of Witchcraft-Based Violence against Children, Women, and the Elderly in Malawi” was launched on 20th July 2012. The research, funded by the Norwegian Embassy, was carried out by the Association for Secular Humanism in collaboration with Dr. Charles Chilimampunga of the Sociology Department, Chancellor College, University of Malawi.
Ruth (82) was suspected of witchcraft when some children in the village got ill. She had her house demolished as a punishment and was badly stigmatized after the attack. This photo shows Ruth sitting on the foundation of her demolished house. Photo: Marie Cecile Embleton
According to the study, the belief in witchcraft is strong, widespread and permeates all sectors in Malawi. Accusations of witchcraft are common and the vulnerable are most often the victims of such accusations and subsequent violence. Elderly women are at most risk of being accused of witchcraft. The means by which witches are identified are questionable. Until now, few systematic studies have been conducted to determine the extent and nature of witchcraft-based violence. This study presents detailed data collected from 8 districts, gives recommendations and is ultimately aimed to contribute to reduction of accusations of witchcraft and promotion of human rights.
During the launch Ambassador Eidhammer said “It is amazing how little attention has been paid to these grave issues.” He noted that “It seems as if everybody is aware of the belief in witchcraft, including the violent hunting of alleged witches, but when discussing politics, economy or social questions, everybody seem to ignore the problem.” Eidhammer also reminded the public of the current case, where two women Margaret Jackson and Eviness Elifar are now serving sentences for witchcraft offences in Maula Prison, waiting to have their obviously unjust sentences annulled by a court of law. Read the rest of his speech here.
The full report can be downloaded here.
Also, the photo reportage is available here.