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By Biodun Busari

The Scottish government has apologised to all women and children persecuted with allegations as witches in the country as the world marked International Widows Day on Thursday.

Scotland First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP made the apology in a letter dated 24 June 2022 and sent to Nigerian human rights activist and director of Advocacy for Alleged Witches, AfAW, Dr Leo Igwe.

Vanguard published on Thursday how Igwe begged African governments to stop archaic persecution and victimization of old widows as witches which he said still rampant in Ghana, Nigeria and other African countries.

In a letter by Sturgeon, Scottish government said the practice is outdated and should not be tolerated across the globe.

The letter reads, “Thank you for your email addressed to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, regarding the apology to the women who were accused and convicted of witchcraft in Scotland. Your email have been passed to the Criminal Justice Division and I have been asked to reply.

“Everyone including women and children have the right to be safe within their community. The First
Minister is aware that women and children in particular still face persecution and even death in some parts of the world because they have been accused of witchcraft. The persecution of women and children is outdated and should not be tolerated.

“As you will be aware, on 8 March the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, issued an apology to the many women who were accused and convicted of the offence of witchcraft under the Witchcraft Act 1563 to acknowledge this historic injustice. These women faced discrimination and had very little protection in law from allegations of criminality including witchcraft. Since then society has vastly improved and women rights have been acknowledged and been put into law. It is a priority for the Scottish Government to achieve women’s equality and further women’s rights in Scotland.

“As you have said in your email the challenges faced in Africa are quite enormous and I hope you and your colleagues at Advocacy for Alleged Witches can take encouragement from the Scottish Government’s decision to issue an apology and go forward with your campaign and highlight the misogynistic attitudes and discrimination that women and children still face to today in many countries throughout the world.

“I wish to thank you for writing to the First Minister and hope you are successful in ending the persecution of women and children accused of witchcraft in Africa.”

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