Across 60 countries, witch hunts are on the rise.
According to the Pontifical Mission Societies and German Catholic news agency KNA, men, women, and children are being persecuted and killed worldwide for allegedly being witches.
The 2022 World Map of Witch Hunts published by the Pontifical Mission Societies in Germany mostly includes African countries, but witch hunts are happening in Southeast Asia, Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala and Haiti too. Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe had been added since last year.
They say more people have been killed for allegedly being witches in the past 60 years than in the 350 years of historical witch hunts across Europe.
In an interview with KNA, Swiss Franciscan Sister Lorena Jenal, an advocate against sorcery-related violence for years now in Papua New Guinea, said the accusation of witchcraft usually follows sudden and inexplicable deaths or illnesses and even the weather.
She added that witch hunts have been fueled by rapid technological advancement combined with lack of education, drug abuse, and violence. She sees de-escalation and mediation as the way forward to free victims.
The Pontifical Mission Societies declared August 10th the World Day Against Witch Hunts in 2020 to draw attention to these worldwide human rights violations.
In 2021, the UN adopted a historic resolution which “emphatically condemns harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks that result in human rights violations.”
“But the resolution must then be followed by corresponding action,” the Pontifical Mission Societies said.