Witches of Scotland: Bill to be brought forward to pardon women and others convicted of witchcraft

Three centuries after the horrific treatment of women and others under the Witchcraft Act in Scotland, an apology could finally be granted in 2022.

In Scotland, an estimated 3,837 people – 84% of whom were women – were tried as witches under the Witchcraft Act of 1563, of which around two-thirds were executed and burned.

With accusations of ‘dancing’ with the devil, shape-shifting to cursing people, the act remained in law until 1736 when it was finally repealed.

Yet, to date, there has been no apology, no pardon and no memorial to those who lost their lives in Scotland.

QC Claire Mitchell is running the Witches of Scotland campaign with author Zoe Venditozzi as an apology could finally be granted in 2022 for those accused under the Witchcraft Act in Scotland.

However, after a two-year campaign by the Witches of Scotland group launched on International Women’s Day in 2020, a private member’s bill to clear the names of those accused which has secured the support of Nicola Sturgeon’s administration is to be brought to the Scottish parliament.

The group will be writing to the National Advisory Council on Women & Girls to support the bill to ask that on International Women’s Day 2022 for the government to apologise to all those killed as ‘witches’.

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The Advisory Council manifesto reads: “For generations, our history has been written by one gender.

"One perspective, one vision, one half of the population. Half of history is missing. For years, we’ve been striving for change. But now is the time to change for good.

“To design a future where gender inequality is a historical curiosity.

"With the voice of everyone we want to create a Scotland where we’re all equal – with an equal future.”Dec 19

In July this year, the UN passed an historic resolution to address the issue of vulnerable people worldwide being accused of witchcraft - a continuing problem made worse by the pandemic.

The bill in Scotland is being brought forward by Natalie Don, SNP MSP for Renfrewshire North & West.

Ms Don said: “This injustice needs to be put right and these people who were criminalised, mostly women, should be pardoned.

"By righting this wrong we will most certainly make an impact in challenging gendered and patriarchal attitudes which still exist in society today.

"Thank you to Witches of Scotland, Claire Mitchell and Zoe Venditozzi for their continued work on this campaign in raising awareness of such an important issue.”

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