‘20,000 die of witchcraft beliefs, health conditions’ misconceptions’
A group of leading United Nations (UN) experts, academics, practitioners and activists have called for urgent action to demystify the link between misconceptions of public health conditions and the widespread abuses of human rights that have led to the senseless killing of over 20,000 persons.
According to the group, “over 20,000 cases of killings, mutilation, exploitation and sale of persons, organs and body parts, ritual rape, torture and stigmatisation linked to beliefs in witchcraft have been documented, with many of these cases being related to public health conditions.
The group said such public health conditions include COVID-19, disabilities and mental health and killings are taking place across the world, due to harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks.
In a statement, the Executive Director, Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN), Gary Foxcroft, said in response to this human rights crisis, the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Lancaster University and the WHRIN have launched a new project to help communities and frontline practitioners demystify the common health conditions often considered as signs of ‘witchcraft’.
Foxcroft stated that misconceptions of health conditions are fuelled by beliefs in ‘witchcraft’. “It is one of the key factors leading to women, children, older persons and those with disabilities to suffer wide-ranging human rights violations. However, to date, there has been no coordinated response to help support frontline practitioners, organisations and policy makers working in these fields,” he said.