Centuries after the last witch hunts were carried out in Europe, the regional parliament of Catalonia has issued pardons to hundreds of women executed during the era in an act of belated apology.
Vice reports that the pardon of 700 executed women was approved by a significant majority in parliament (114 votes in favor to 21 votes against) as a measure to redress past wrongs and as part of a resolution to conduct research into those tortured and killed in witch trials held between the 15th and 18th centuries. The same resolution also “[encourages] localities to revise some of their street names and consider dedicating them to women executed for witchcraft.”
The Scotsman explains that the pardon was partially inspired by the Witches Of Scotland campaign, “which is urging the Scottish Government to grant a pardon, apology, and memorial to those persecuted as witches in Scotland.” (It’s expected to pass later this year.) The editor-in-chief of Sapiens, the Catalan history magazine that launched the campaign that led to the pardons, has said that her movement was influenced by others that have taken place in Scotland, Switzerland, Norway, and Germany.
Jenn Díaz, a member of parliament for Catalonia’s Esquerra party, said “we are the heiresses of the witches” while discussing the resolution. “There has been an evolution—today they call us feminazis,” she stated. “There is a connection between witch hunts and femicide. We want reparation and an understanding that the past is not as distant as we think.”
Resolutions and memorials like Catalonia’s are a welcome acknowledgement of historical wrongs and part of a welcome trend. That said: We must never get carried away and pardon Samantha from Bewitched, the only real demon magician who’s ever existed and an existential threat to humanity whenever allergy season comes around.
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