Every year, the South African Pagan Rights Alliance Touchstone Advocacy runs a 30 day campaign to end “witch-hunts” and the accusations of “witchcraft” (see note below) in South Africa. This year, the campaign runs from March 29 to April 27. The importance of campaigns like this cannot be overstated. SAPRA’s leadership with this campaign powerfully responds to a critical worldwide need for greater public awareness, education, and advocacy against “witch-hunts” that changes culture and ultimately save lives. The effects of being accused of practicing “witchcraft” can be devastating, even when it does not result in the death of the accused.
Part one of our two part interview with Damon Leff. Leff is a South African Pagan involved in education and advocacy for human rights and religious freedom. We spoke with him about the South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) and the work it is doing.
As Canada eliminates its antiquated laws regarding Witchcraft, persecution still has serious consequences in other parts of the world. The United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights), for example, still lists Witchcraft accusations as a serious threat against women and other minorities. The Human Rights Office notes that “witchcraft related beliefs and practices have resulted in serious violations of human rights including, beatings, banishment, cutting of body parts, and amputation of limbs, torture and murder. Women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities particularly persons with albinism, are particularly vulnerable. Despite the seriousness of these human rights abuses, there is often no robust state led response.
PRETORIA, South Africa –A self-styled prophet and leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering is being sued because he accused a businessperson of being a witch on live television, and some South African Pagans fear the case may bolster a push to regulate religion. If that were to come to pass, members of minority traditional and Pagan groups may be disproportionately affected in this country. Witchcraft is a complicated topic throughout Africa. Witch accusations can lead to violence, arising out of negative associations made to traditional practices. The emergence of Neopagan movements such as Wicca make the use of the word “witch” all the more confusing.