Saturday, March 14, 2009

Witchcraft in Africa and the feminist fightback

There is a superb but frightening article by Johann Hari in the Independent about witch hunting and genital mutilation in Africa. Let no one say irrationality does not have costs. And please don't dare to suggest we need to "respect" the idiotic ideas that lead to these practices. Hearteningly, there is also a feminist fightback afoot -- one that we should all support. A sample:
Across Africa, a war is being waged on women – but we are refusing to hear the screams. Over the past fortnight, I have travelled into the secretive shadow world that mutilates millions of African women at the beginning of their lives, and at the end. As girls, they face having their genitalia sliced out with razors, to destroy their "filthy" sexuality and keep them "pure". As old women, they face being hacked to death as "witches", blamed for every virus and sickness blowing across the savannah.

For decades, we have not wanted to know, because it sounded too much like the old colonialist claims of African "primitivism", used as an excuse by our ancestors to pillage the continent's resources. Our bad memories stop us hearing their bad experiences. But today, a rebellion of African women has begun, in defence of their own bodies, and their own freedom. They are asking for our support, and receiving it from Comic Relief and the tens of thousands of people raising money for them tomorrow. This is the story of the great African feminist fightback – and how you can be part of it.
(Cross posted on Intrepid Aardvark).


  1. What should "our" support consist of?

  2. Well, that's a tough question and the answer will probably be different for different people. Spreading the word about these injustices, subjecting the beliefs to criticism and analysis, donating to relevant charities, etc.

    I plan to write a piece about muti murders, hopefully for Skeptical Inquirer. (But. I need to finish my damn thesis first).

  3. It's not just women who are accused of witchcraft. Boy children are being killed as well although women are certainly being targeted for various bizarre sexual practices.