The Causes of Illness
Leprosy = same disease everywhere but experienced and understood differently
Cause of disease is understood differently in various societies
Today: Witchcraft and Disease
In many parts of the world, disease is not understood to be caused by viruses, bacteria, malignancy or
environmental factors (eg. Poor diet, lack of exercise, stress), but by external forces like witchcraft
What is a witch?
An individual who is widely believed to be able to manipulate spirits, via magic, for their own
purposes. Witches are normally perceived as malevolent or evil.
Those accused can be men, women, young and old.
Witchcraft accusations are a means of restoring order, peace, health and equilibrium in many
Sub-Saharan Africa – S. of Sahara Desert
Among some groups in Sub-Saharan Africa, witches:
Are normally female
Cast evil spells
Fly at night, kill and eat children
Illnesses/diseases like flu, tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV infection are blamed on witches
Women accused of witchcraft:
Are often scapegoated as the “problem” or cause of illness
Are tortured and/or killed
In some communities, vaginal fluids are believed to cure men afflicted with HIV
Culture of heteronormative masculinity – causes increase infections
Ghana and Sou