No, Really — Old Women Are Not Witches

Comic Relief and the Department for International Development are funding an odd program in Tanzania — aid workers there are trying a number of approaches to convince people in north-west Tanzanian that old women are not witches.

According to the BBC,

In many African villages, old women living on their own or in isolation are often accused of being witches with local people holding them esponsible for tragic events or even general hardship.

The women are victimised and intimidated and in many cases they are killed.

The program targets 70 villages in north-west Tanzania. “We use traditional drama groups, dances, choirs to pass educational messages to the entire community that older people are not witches,” Sixbert Mbaya, who manages one of these programs, told The BBC.

On the one hand, it is difficult to fathom that in the 21st century there is any part of the world that still needs such a program. On the other hand, it is only a few centuries removes since the last witch trials in North America. Programs that genuinely improve the status of women in the developing world deserve our support.


Aid scheme tackles African witch myth. The BBC, April 26, 2002.

One thought on “No, Really — Old Women Are Not Witches”

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