Witch hunts around the world

People are being persecuted by anti-witchcraft vigilantes. The church can help.

Concepts of human rights have changed much in recent years, and churches have sometimes struggled to keep pace. In one particular area, however, they are uniquely placed to make a critical contribution: fighting persecution for witchcraft.

At first glance, it seems shocking to apply the concept of human rights to an idea as self-evidently primitive as witchcraft. Yet across Africa, Asia, and Oceania, antiwitchcraft movements and militias flourish, and the media offer daily reports of supposed witches being lynched or attacked. An additional related form of violence involves the murder and mutilation of albino people, who are targeted for occult purposes and whose body parts are much sought for ritual purposes.

Responding to these horrors are a number of private organizations, including Under the Same Sun, which campaigns for albinos, and the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Net­work. Framing the problem as one of human rights encourages concerted international action.