• Paganism

15 Other Places Besides Salem, MA That Killed People For Being 'Witches'

The Salem witch trials are some of the most widely known witch hunts in history, but violence against witches happens all over the world. Often, these incidents aren’t even “trials” with a jury and judge so much as they are just straight-up murders. 

It’s important to stress that there are no real “witches” in these cases. None of these people murdered had supernatural powers (obviously); often, this violence against witches is really just violence against women. Accusations of witchcraft are used as an excuse, not an explanation. What makes these even sadder is that these events didn’t happen centuries ago; all of the cases listed below were in the last decade or so. Evil doesn’t reside in the “black magic” of witches; it’s in the frightened frenzy of murderous mobs. All over the world, women (and some men) accused of witchcraft are hunted or put on trial and even killed to this very day.

  • Saudi Arabia Has A Long History Of Executing People For 'Sorcery'

    Video: YouTube

    The execution of Amina bint Abdel Halim Nassar happened in the far off, medieval time of… December, 2011. She was convicted after authorities found “books on sorcery… talismans and glass bottles filled with liquids supposedly used for the purposes of magic.” As far as reasons to find someone guilty of being a witch, that counts as “barely even trying to make up an excuse.” The execution most likely came from reports that she sold spells and bottles for around $400, or possibly because she was a woman in a puritanical monarchy. Under their law, death is the punishment for sorcery, blasphemy and witchcraft. “Sorcery” is a charge the Kingdom uses fairly willy-nilly, as TV host Ali Hussain Sibat was arrested for it in 2008.

  • A Nepalese Mob Forced A Woman To Eat Her Own Excreta

    Photo: Carl Spitzweg / Wikimedia Commons

    “Forced to eat her own excreta” means exactly what you think it means. Kalli Kumari B.K. was “kicked, punched and hit with a stone” by another member of her Nepalese village who said: “a witch should be killed like this.” That “villager” was her sister, Bimala Lama. This only happened after she was tortured for two days, where they threatened “to chop (her) breasts using blades.” She eventually did “agree that some animals in the village died because she practiced witchcraft upon them,” because, well who wouldn’t agree to something after all that? The villagers even threatened her husband. He was told he'd face the same treatment if he even spoke in support of her. 

  • In Papua New Guinea, Women Suspected Of Witchcraft Are Still Burned Alive

    Photo: Andreas Praefcke / Wikimedia Commons

    When executing a suspected “witch,” people always go over the top. It’s never “we shot the witch in the head”; it's always something like this story of a rural Papua New Guinea woman who was “bound and gagged, tied to a log, and set ablaze on a pile of tires.” The explanation given for many of the executions of these “witches” is that they’re “scapegoats for someone’s unexplained death,” because obviously, the only way to deal with your grief is to light someone on fire atop a bunch of tires. This is shockingly common in Papua New Guinea; over fifty people were killed in 2007 alone for “sorcery.” Many regions of the country still live according to traditional beliefs, which is how some citizens come to blame witches for the AIDS-related deaths of 6.7 million people. 

  • Congolese Children Accused Of Witchcraft Are Thrown Out Of Their Homes

    Photo: Edward Frederick Brewtnall / Wikimedia Commons

    Of the 25,000 to 50,000 homeless children on the streets of the large city of Kinshasa, roughly a majority were kicked out of their homes because they were accused of witchcraft. That would be enough people to fill a basketball or hockey stadium. These numbers are from 2006, not some distant century. This isn’t just limited to poor kids, either, as “children who do well in school can also be accused of witchcraft.” To make things even worse (which, frankly doesn’t seem like it should be possible) scam artists tied to evangelical churches charge small fees to “investigate the children and confirm they are possessed… keeping them without food for days, beating and torturing them.”