Workshop on Understanding Harmful Beliefs and Public Health

Our workshop on ‘Beyond Safeguarding: Harmful Beliefs and Public Health’ at The British Council, Freetown, on 24 June, was attended by staff from the Epilepsy Association, the Sierra Leone Autistic Society and the Sierra Leone Association for Persons with Albinism.

Witchcraft accusations are an almost universal experience for our epilepsy patients who attend clinic, and often for their families too. The UN is planning a special resolution acknowledging the severity of human rights abuses that take place due to beliefs in witchcraft, calling for urgent action.

MASL Trustee Leethen Bartholomew ran a workshop for 30 attendees on understanding and meeting the needs of those accused of witchcraft/spiritual possession and looking at how we can further safeguard people from harm, especially children, in our support work. There were many shared experiences amongst the participating organisations, including the pervading impact of stigma which leads to the direct denial of human rights for those affected. We look forward to continuing to work with all organisations on this important issue. We are grateful to The British Council for the use of their seminar room.