A K206.98 million worth project aimed at eradicating violence and other human rights violations against children, women and the elderly accused of witchcraft has been launched in Neno district by the Association for Secular Humanism (ASH).

ASH already launched a similar project in the districts of Karonga, Rumphi, Mzimba, Kasungu, Dowa, Lilongwe, Mchinji, Machinga, Mulanje, Chikhwawa and Neno.

Speaking after briefing district council officials at Neno Community Hall, the ASH Executive Director, George Thindwa said: “The project is in response to recommendations of a research study. This is a community mobilization programme on the problem of witchcraft based violence, an advocacy for social justice and rule of law.”

According to Thindwa, most Malawians do not know what the Witchcraft Act says about witchcraft and that even those that know about it indicated that they did not exactly know what it said.

“Most of those interviewed did not regard witchcraft based violence as a human rights issue. For instance, participants in 19 (66 percent) of the 29 focus group discussions said that there is no relationship between witchcraft and human rights,” claimed Thindwa.

He also continued to say witchcraft based violence continues to cause a lot of discomfort in all spheres of the Malawi society.

“Witchcraft based violence should be eradicated because it is a human rights issue and through the project we will all be expected to contribute to the reduction of witchcraft accusations and witchcraft based violence affecting the elderly, women and children and promote the upholding of human rights.”

Remarking on the project, Neno District Commissioner, Mcloud Kadam’manja said the programme needed to be taken to the two T/As of Dambe and Mlauli in the district because the areas are where a lot of elderly get victimized on witchcraft allegations.

“During the rainy season, we get a lot of reports from T/A Dambe and Mlauli of alleged man- made lightening where in most cases the elderly are the ones being accused for such occurrences,” observed Kadam’manja.