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From Witch-Hunt to Conspiracy Theories and Modern Forms of Exclusion: The Salem Witch Trials case

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Micah 5:12: “And I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no more tellers of fortunes”

[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]he state of Holy Bible is a pivotal basis behind the curtain of mysterious witch trials in terms of identifying them in deep. Witchcrafts which were basically common in the American colonies such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven sparked the volcano of moral tensions amid XVII century in the colonies.

As a consequence, then the society of American colonies has been seized by the sense of trepidation of bewitchment, satanic witches, in particular, bizarre kinds of supernatural powers, but to a large extent, the focal causes of witch trials have lingered mysteriously. The paper has pointed out that there were several controversies in regard to these issues to reveal the main causes of witch trials in the American colonies. In addition, this paper scrutinizes the varied reasons why witch trials have been prosecuted in the colonies. It is undeniable fact that witchcraft can be identified as a chief example of not only the violations of human rights but also women’s rights. Throughout XVII century, it was identified as a malicious hazard against the Puritan community of the colonies, as well as positions of a local elite group.

Throughout XVII century, the widespread of witch trials sparked the seeds of moral hysteria putting forward that malignant satanic witches being worshippers of the Devil were engendering the evil-minded and ill-disposed menace to the whole Christian community in the American colonies. When it comes to identifying the main causes of witchcraft, it can be a key basis to take the certain alterations into account in the colonies. What did the demand for witchcraft stem from?! There was a different kind of reasons why people tried to deal with the sorcery and malicious activities. First and foremost, epidemic smallpox, plague, natural catastrophes, internal conflicts, wars, as well as hectic cold weather, (namely Little Ice Age). Amid that period, the residents of the colonies believed that Devil was trying to permeate into their lives and annihilate Christians, in particular, their communities. In addition, their beliefs and thoughts in Devil giving some certain people power in order to hurt others and basically in return for loyalty burnt the craze of a witch hunt.

The Salem Witch Trials started in the spring quarter of 1692, were a murky period in American history. The dark clouds caught the overhead of the Salem village when a wave of moral hysteria reached its apex point throughout the Colonial Massachusetts. More than 200 people were blamed for dealing with bewitchment; about 20 people were executed amid the term of hysteria. How do the main reasons of the trials can be considered?! – Before narrating the main point of the story, it can be better to identify the political, local, and religious contexts and origins of the Salem Witch Trials. England started the war known as King William’s war with France in its American colonies in 1689. As a result of the war, many refugees and displaced peoples were sent to the Essex County, particularly, the Salem Village (currently Danvers) located in Massachusetts Bay Colony. The widespread wave of refugees into the colony ignited the internal conflicts and animosity between local and displaced persons on Salem’s wealthy resources. Resentment against Reverend Samuel Parris, the first ordained minister of the Salem Village heightened because of his severe positions and gluttonous character. Therefore, the main origins of the trials premised on the attacks from neighbouring American tribes, personal differences, long-lasting disputes with the well-off society of Salem Town (presently Salem).

According to religious background, first and foremost, it might be a central part to take into account the insensitive realities of the Puritans’ lives in the community. The majority of Conservative Puritans secular leaders among local people in the village manipulated by Calvinism were opposing to traditions of the Protestant Church of England. The Puritans held the opinions that the main root of the simmering tensions and quarrelling within society as a Devil’s toil.

The event started with the afflictions of the two youngsters; Elizabeth Parris at 9 ages, and Abigail Williams at 11 ages, who was a daughter and a niece of Reverend Samuel Parris respectively. The two girls having fit madly screamed, exhibited weird sounds and distorted themselves into bizarre episodes. Shortly after, the same positions such as contortions, convulsions were experienced firstly by Ann Putnam, at 11 ages, and then other girls of the village. The event ignited the mass hysteria and moral panic among people. Eventually, a local doctor William Griggs was unable to reveal any kind of physical diseases, and then put “the bewitchment diagnosis on the afflicted maidens. The girls began to charge three women in bewitching them; the Elizabeth’s Caribbean slave, Tituba, a homeless vagrant, Sarah Good, and an older poor woman, Sarah Osbourne.

Afterwards, three women charged in witchcraft were arrested and questioned. During the investigation, the two women, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osbourne denied their deal with witchcraft and manifested themselves as an innocent, but Tituba made a scandalous acknowledgment that she had been engaged in the work of Satan along with two women aforementioned above: “The Devil came to me and bid me serve him” . After that, three women were put in jail. Ostensibly, the craze of witchcraft among the conservative Puritans in the Salem village sparked aggression and resentment against anyone who was alleged in charging with witchcraft. Shortly after, in order to examine and question people who were suspected of dealing with witchcraft, William Phips appointed to the newly minister position conveyed the foundation of a special court of Oyer (to question) and Terminer (to determine).

The first conviction of the court’s investigation was an older woman Bridget Bishop known as her bizarre habits and promiscuity claimed that she was an innocent as a child unborn, after that she was hanged in July of the same year at Gallows Hill who was an initial victim of the witch trials then.   During the severe trials, many people were executed, some were put in jail, and other people were sent to hang at Gallows Hill. The trials of many people engender the sense of fear among colonists that many innocent people were being annihilated as a result of “spectral facts”.

Local rulers started to pursue their stances against witch hunt and tended to convince local officials to suspend the trials against people. Hence, the conducting of trials resulted in the dissolving of the court of Oyer and Terminer by Governor William Phipps, and consequently, the use of ghostlike proof was declared unacceptable. After the disbanding of the courts, William Phipps ordered to establish a Superior Court of Judicature not allowing to the “spectral evidence”. As a consequence, at the beginning of the 1700s, the newly established court re-establish the good names of the condemned people, released many innocent people and granted financial restitution to their heirs, but indeed, acrimony and harsh realities lingered in the society and kept its hectic influences into XX century.

In conclusion, it is undeniable fact that the Salem Witch Trials were one of the severe trials against human rights in the history of mankind. In XX century, Historians preferred to base the trials in varied contexts. Some analysts and scientists were attracted by the pivotal causes of the trials for a long time and tried to find out the origins of the abnormal behaviours and positions experienced in the Salem village and focused on the severe effects of fungus ergot, hence eating ergot-contaminated foods could cause nausea, hallucinations, and exhibition of peculiar positions. Other scholars hold the opinion that the term of abnormally cold weather conditions destroyed many crops that lead to crops failures, in the society. Although, the Salem Witch Trials was over, it kept its severe effects on people for a long time. In 1953, Arthur Miller shed a light on the Salem Witch Trials and dramatized the 1692 events in his play titled “Crucible”. In his play, he used the trials as a metaphor for the McCarthyism paranoia performed anti-Communist positions, by Senator Joseph McCarthy. Thereby, this paper mainly identifies that the execution against innocent people is inadmissible that took many lives during the term of mass hysteria, in order that the Salem Witch Trials as a concrete indicator of violations of human rights, confessed the persecution of many innocent people alleged in witchcraft, and to date, the main reasons of the trials remained unknown.

Ms. Nargiz Hajiyeva is an independent researcher from Azerbaijan. She is an honored graduate student of Vytautas Magnus University and Institute D'etudes de Politique de Grenoble, Sciences PO. She got a Bachelor degree with the distinction diploma at Baku State University from International Relations and Diplomacy programme. Her main research fields concern on international security and foreign policy issues, energy security, cultural and political history, global political economy and international public law. She worked as an independent researcher at Corvinus University of Budapest, Cold War History Research Center. She is a successful participator of International Student Essay Contest, Stimson Institute, titled “how to prevent the proliferation of the world's most dangerous weapons”, held by Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School and an honored alumnus of European Academy of Diplomacy in Warsaw Poland. Between 2014 and 2015, she worked as a Chief Adviser and First Responsible Chairman in International and Legal Affairs at the Executive Power of Ganja. At that time, she was defined to the position of Chief Economist at the Heydar Aliyev Center. In 2017, Ms. Hajiyeva has worked as an independent diplomatic researcher at International Relations Institute of Prague under the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Czech Republic. Currently, she is pursuing her doctoral studies in Political Sciences and International Relations programme in Istanbul, Turkey.

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New Social Compact

WHO and Future Frontiers of Global Pandemic Governance

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The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the deep fissures among the countries with regards to governance of the pandemic .The uncoordinated and the haphazard  knee-jerk reactions and policy nostrums is indicative of the abysmal sclerosis of the governance mechanisms of the WHO .While  with the advent of the hyper-nationalism and  kindred predilections  of the countries in  protectionist initiatives global governance across the issue areas has witnessed a diminishing efficacy or outright floundering, it is however in the health issue that the governance mechanism aimed at containing pandemic has unraveled  deplorably.

The global efforts aimed at grappling with the unwieldy virus can be termed as a debacle as the hitherto infrastructure that   framers of institutions have forged had met with outright disregard  in favor with a  harkening back to the 19th century  protectionist attitudes where each country guided by their parochial interest had  jealously guarded national sovereignty in order to safeguard their goals. The countries who were bound together through   the robust bond of globalization had reacted to the pandemic with a spirit that is antithetical to the underlying rationales of globalization .Especially, European nations  had maintained more sophisticated and intricate collective cooperation  and n in effect had spawned a federal European identity. However, during the outbreak of the pandemic they had resorted to measures which is unbecoming of their collective identity and was emblematic of a realpolitik reckoning of state interest.

As with Europe, pandemic had unraveled the prolonged vacuous rhetoric of the country apropos international cooperation and global governance. While United States deem itself as the lone custodian of the liberal world order and underscore the necessity of cooperation in order to safeguard the collective freedom of the country, however at the beginning of the pandemic and throughout the turbulent pandemic period the preeminent country in the world had denigrated the global governance efforts in favor of its arm-twisting tactics and notoriously browbeaten India to secure crucial medical supplies. Besides, at the height of the pandemic far from concentrating collective efforts to halt the unceasing onslaught of the pandemic, United States had embroiled in bickering with the China over the origin of the Covid-19 virus and wielded mud-slinging and other measures to denigrate its prime geo-political adversary.

The victims of great powers’ unabashed skirmishes were however the less developed countries who hinge on global governance and collective cooperation in the pressing situation .However ,any consensus had been impeded due to the barrage of recriminations  by both the United States and China. This wrangling had deflected the elite attention from the containment of the pandemic and provided ground for further aggravation of the global pandemic. Moreover, the  reaction of the countries  to the Covid-19 was  haphazard and  had been lacking in any coherent collective will in facing the  pandemic.

The slipshod management of the global health crisis had been a characteristic of WHO despite the fundamental pillar underlying this paramount organization being the management and prevention of the world health crisis. Since its inception, however, WHO had fared miserably in its bid in containment of the numerous public health crisis .The earlier debacle of WHO was marked by dilatory response or unsolicited response. Moreover,  WHO failed to mobilize due response in the face of pressing threats to global health. This is a consequence of the organization’s lack of coordinated effort and deficiency of any coercive capabilities.  While WHO is entrusted with the paramount responsibility of managing international and collective response against public health crisis ,it is however devoid of any mechanism that and aren’t mandated to coerce its constituent states to abide by its regulations. Therefore, WHO and its efforts at countering the health crisis are often rendered futile due to the stubborn attitude of the countries and due to the unwieldy nature of global governance.

Therefore, the efficacy of the paramount institution that has been envisaged in order to shield the world from a disastrous public health crisis is increasingly hamstrung in want of a coordinated and refined mechanism. Against this backdrop, the surfacing of ominous novel variant Omicron has jolted the already fragile economic recovery in the  world and run the risk of wiping the hard-earned gains  in the wake of vaccination efforts. The current woe and resurfacing of the pandemic points towards the callous stance of the developed countries with regards to vaccination. While developed countries had inoculated their domestic population, they however is shilly shallying  about mounting a coordinated global effort in confronting the global pandemic. This has meant that a excruciatingly slow vaccination rate in the African region. The fact that this virus had originated in Africa is indicative of a ominous message and suggest that due to dilatory vaccination  efforts globally bulk of the developing and lower developed countries remain outside the vaccination and the virus are mutating incessantly through these unvaccinated population are growing more virulent .

Moreover, until a substantial percentage of people come under the ambit of vaccination, it will be remain herculean task of extirpating the Covid menace. However, there are paucity of sincere efforts from the has undermined WHO’s overtures aimed at a coordinated vaccination program had faltered due to the callous and apathetic attitude of the developing nations. Besides, the profit-guzzling pharmaceuticals companies had found a windfall of endless profiteering from the plight of pandemic and in effect weaponized pandemic as a means to monopolizing their vaccines and other medical goods and safeguarding this inordinate market dominance under the questionable TRIPs .

Against this backdrop, the world requires   a well-coordinated, hierarchical, top-down and systemic institution with the capacity of the managing the global health crisis with efficiency .Besides, the new governance mechanism need to be modeled on other organizations that wield capacity of sanction and can exert pressure on the government if any country doesn’t abide by its dictates. Besides, rather than inefficacious and toothless organization , an  efficient management of global health crisis is required in order to persuasively deal with the global health crisis. A treaty needs to be formulated with all of the countries entrusting their partial sovereign power to the organization and should abide by the injunction of the organization. Moreover, an overhaul of infrastructure of global health governance is presupposed in order to confront the pressing challenges of the  imminent health crisis.

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Partnering with persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world

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As the world observes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities today, we honour the leadership of persons with disabilities and their tireless efforts to build a more inclusive, accessible and sustainable world. At the same time, we resolve to work harder to ensure a society that is open and accommodating of all.

An estimated 690 million persons with disabilities, around 15 per cent of the total population, live in the Asia-Pacific region. Many of them continue to be excluded from socio-economic and political participation. Available data suggests that persons with disabilities are almost half as likely to be employed as persons without disabilities. They are also half as likely to have voted in an election and are underrepresented in government decision-making bodies.  Just about 0.5 per cent of parliamentarians in the region are persons with disabilities. Women with disabilities are even less likely to be employed and hold only 0.1 per cent of national parliament positions.

One of the main reasons behind these exclusions is a lack of accessibility. Public transportation and the built environment in general — including public offices, polling stations, workplaces, markets and other essential structures — lack ramps, walkways and basic accessibility features. Accessibility, however, goes beyond the commonly thought of physical structures. Barriers to access to services and information and communication technology must also be removed, to allow for the participation of persons with diverse types of disabilities, including persons with intellectual disabilities and hearing and vision impairments.

The COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns has exacerbated existing inequalities. Many persons with disabilities face increased health concerns due to comorbidities and were left without access to their personal assistants and essential goods and services. As much of society moved online during lockdowns, inaccessible digital infrastructure meant persons with disabilities could not access public health information or online employment opportunities.

Despite these challenges, persons with disabilities and their organizations were among the first to respond to the immediate needs of their communities for food and supplies during lockdowns in addition to continuing their long-term work to support vulnerable groups.

ESCAP partnered with several of these organizations to support their work during the pandemic. Samarthyam, a civil society organization in India led by a woman with disabilities, has trained many men and women with disabilities to conduct accessibility audits in their home districts. With these skills, they are becoming leaders and advocates in their communities, working towards improving the accessibility of essential buildings everywhere.

Another ESCAP partner, the National Council for the Blind of Malaysia (NCBM), is working to improve digital accessibility by training a group with diverse disabilities in web access auditing, accessible e-publishing and strategic advocacy. NCBM hopes to support participants in forming a social enterprise for web auditing and accessible publishing, creating employment opportunities and enabling persons with disabilities to lead efforts to improve online accessibility.

Women and men with disabilities have been leaders and champions to break barriers to make a difference in Asia and the Pacific. Today, ESCAP launches the report “Disability at a Glance 2021: The Shaping of Disability-inclusive Employment in Asia and the Pacific.” The report highlights some innovative approaches to making employment more inclusive, as well as recommendations on how to further reduce employment gaps. 

Adjusting to a post-COVID-19 world presents an opportunity for governments to reassess and implement policies to increase the inclusion of persons with disabilities in employment, decision making bodies and all aspects of society. Accessibility issues impact not only persons with disabilities but also other people in need of assistance, including older persons, pregnant women or those with injuries. Implementing policies with universal design, which creates environments and services that are useable by all people, benefits the whole of society. Governments should mainstream universal design principles into national development plans, not only in disability-specific laws and policies.   

As a global leader in disability-inclusive development for over 30 years, the Asia-Pacific region has set an example by adopting the world’s first set of disability-specific development goals in the Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real.” Meeting the Incheon Strategy goals will require governments to intensify their efforts to reduce barriers to education, employment and political participation.

At ESCAP, we know that achieving an inclusive and sustainable post-COVID-19 world will only be possible with increased leadership and participation of persons with disabilities. To build back better — and fairer — we will continue to strengthen partnerships with all stakeholders so together we can “Make the Right Real” for all persons with disabilities.

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Remote Learning during the pandemic: Lessons from today, principles for tomorrow 

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Education systems around the world reacted to COVID-19 by closing schools and rolling out remote learning options for their students as an emergency response.  New World Bank analysis of early evidence reveals that while remote learning has not been equally effective everywhere, hybrid learning is here to stay.

Going forward, for remote learning to deliver on its potential, the analysis shows the need to ensure strong alignment between three complementary components: effective teaching, suitable technology, and engaged learners.

“Hybrid learning – which combines in-person and remote learning – is here to stay. The challenge will be the art of combining technology and the human factor to make hybrid learning a tool to expand access to quality education for all,” emphasized Jaime Saavedra, World Bank Global Director for Education.  “Information technology is only a complement, not a substitute, for the conventional teaching process – particularly among preschool and elementary school students. The importance of teachers, and the recognition of education as essentially a human interaction endeavor, is now even clearer.”

The twin reports, Remote Learning During the Global School Lockdown: Multi-Country Lessons and Remote Learning During COVID-19: Lessons from Today, Principles for Tomorrow, stress that three components are critical for remote learning to be effective:

  • Prioritizing effective teachers: a teacher with high subject content knowledge, skills to use technology, and appropriate pedagogical tools and support is more likely to be effective at remote instruction.
  • Adopting suitable technology: availability of technology is a necessary but not sufficient condition for effective remote learning.
  • Ensuring learners are engaged: for students to be engaged, contextual factors such as the home environment, family support, and motivation for learning must be well aligned.

The reports found that many countries struggled to ensure take-up and some even found themselves in a remote learning paradox: choosing a distance learning approach unsuited to the access and capabilities of a majority of their teachers and students.

“Emerging evidence on the effectiveness of remote learning during COVID-19 is mixed at best,” said Cristóbal Cobo, World Bank Senior Education and Technology Specialist, and co-author of the two reports. “Some countries provided online digital learning solutions, although a majority of students lacked digital devices or connectivity, thus resulting in uneven participation, which further exacerbated existing inequalities. Other factors leading to low student take-up are unconducive home environments; challenges in maintaining children’s engagement, especially that of younger children; and low digital literacy of students, teachers, and/or parents.”

“While pre-pandemic access to technology and capabilities to use it differed widely within and across countries, limited parental engagement and support for children from poor families has generally hindered their ability to benefit from remote learning,” stressed Saavedra.

Despite these challenges with remote learning, this can be an unprecedented opportunity to leverage its potential to reimagine learning and to build back more effective and equitable education systems. Hybrid learning is part of the solution for the future to make the education process more effective and resilient. 

The reports offer the following five principles to guide country efforts going forward:

Ensure remote learning is fit-for-purpose. Countries should choose modes of remote learning that are suitable to the access and utilization of technology among both teachers and students, including digital skills, and that teachers have opportunities to develop the technical and pedagogical competencies needed for effective remote teaching. 

Use technology to enhance the effectiveness of teachers. Teacher professional development should develop the skills and support needed to be an effective teacher in a remote setting.

Establish meaningful two-way interactions. Using the most appropriate technology for the local context, it is imperative to enable opportunities for students and teachers to interact with each other with suitable adaptations to the delivery of the curriculum.

Engage and support parents as partners in the teaching and learning process. It is imperative that parents (families) are engaged and supported to help students access remote learning and to ensure both continuity of learning and protect children’s socioemotional well-being.

Rally all actors to cooperate around learning. Cooperation across all levels of government; as well as partnerships between the public and private sector, and between groups of teachers and school principals; is vital to the effectiveness of remote learning and to ensure that the system continues to adapt, learn, and improve in an ever-changing remote learning landscape.

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