Senior Lecturer joins first UN workshop to discuss Witchcraft
Published: Wednesday 4th October 2017
In September, Senior Lecturer in Social Work Dr Jean Burke was invited to contribute to the UN’s first workshop on Witchcraft Beliefs and Human Rights.
Around the world, witchcraft beliefs have led to death, torture and mutilation. This ground-breaking workshop aimed to address the challenges around defining witchcraft beliefs and practices and explore proposed solutions and how to place them within the structure of United Nations protocols and engagement.
More than one hundred experts from international and Government agencies, faith-based and secular NGOs, universities and United Nations bodies came together to be part of the discussions.
Papua New Guinea (PNG), Nigeria, and Tanzania were highly featured in the workshop as were some European countries, in particular the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
Dr Burke’s research focuses on media analysis issues facing people with albinism in Tanzania, including harmful practices associated with witchcraft beliefs and the trafficking of their body parts.
Similar harmful practices affect children in Uganda. Nigerian children and women and men in PNG are accused of being witches, while others' fears of spirits and curses are exploited worldwide for harmful exorcism and human trafficking businesses.
Dr Burke said: “The preliminary outcomes of the workshop highlight the need for comprehensive and multilevel response, data collecting and monitoring, law reform by governments and prevention strategies. It also highlighted the need to engage current national and international mechanisms, including the sustainable development goals.