21 March 2022 :
Scotland’s Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon on 8 March 2022 in Edinburgh issued an official government pardon for thousands of women convicted of witchcraft in XVI and XVII Centuries and were killed “simply because they were women. During this period about 4000 people in Scotland were accused of practicing witchcraft, 84% of them women. In total, more than 2,500 were hanged for witchcraft, often strangled and then burned, after confessions extracted under torture.
On 8 March, International Women’s Day, Nicola Sturgeon called on the Scottish Parliament to ‘recognize this total historical injustice’ and to grant a formal posthumous pardon for all those accused, slandered or hanged under the Witchcraft Act 1563. This law gave the death penalty to the perpetrators of witchcraft and was in effect until 1736.
“When women were not even allowed to testify in court, they were accused of being poor, differentiated, vulnerable, or in many cases being killed because they were women,” said Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP’s Freedom Party.
An association of Scottish witches has been campaigning for two years for this official apology, as well as a national monument to forgive all the perpetrators of witchcraft and to commemorate these unknown plays.
Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Parliament could pass legislation that would allow the requested amnesty.
Justifying his decision to apologize, the Scottish Prime Minister argued that it was “important” to acknowledge past injustices. “Even today, there are areas in the world where women and girls are accused of practicing witchcraft and are subject to persecution and sometimes death,” he said.
Nicola Sturgeon concludes, “The law of witchcraft in Scotland may have been passed a long time ago, and there is no deep-seated female hatred that provoked it” and “we still live with it.”