400 years on from the Lancashire Witches

Charlotte Baker

Professor Charlotte Baker, from the Department of Languages and Culture at Lancaster University, was the speaker on Thursday evening. The talk was linked to the Lancaster Witch Trials, Albinism and the gaining of a United Nations Resolution. 

Charlotte described the events leading up to the trial of the Pendle Witches in Lancaster in August 1612. James 1 brought in the death penalty for anyone found guilty of witchcraft. In Europe between 1550 and 1700 there was a time of religious intloerance and superstition. The targets were vunerable people, children and elderly women. Witchcraft related cases of abuse continue to this day. In the UK over the period 2018 -2019, there were 1630 recorded cases of abuse and harm linked to "faith" and "belief".
Charlotte explained that Albinism caused by a lack of melanin in skin, hair and eyes is considered by certain African people to be caused by evil spirits. Body parts from victims, killed because of their Albinism, are considered to have special powers and are sold for high prices. African "witch doctors" promote these sales. 
Charlotte has worked with a number of other NGOs and experts to counter the misconceptions about Albinism and spread a better understanding.
An outcome of this work is a United Nations Resolution 47/8 Elimination of Harmful Practices related to Manifestation of Belief in Wichcraft. 
The organisation Under the Same Sun works to help people with Albinism overcome discimination.
Standing Voice defends the rights of people with Albinism in Africa. 

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