Catalonia pardons women executed for witchcraft

Woodblock print depicting drowning as a form of punishment during 15th Century Switzerland. Dated 15th century

The Catalan regional parliament has formally pardoned hundreds of women executed for witchcraft between the 15th and 18th centuries.

MPs passed a resolution by a large majority to rehabilitate the memory of more than 700 women who were tortured and put to death.

Spanish historians have discovered that Catalonia was one of the first regions in Europe to carry out witch hunts.

It was also considered one of the worst areas for executions.

“We have recently discovered the names of more than 700 women who were persecuted, tortured and executed between the 15th and 18th centuries,” said the groups behind the resolution.

Witches were often blamed for the sudden death of children or for poor harvests, according to Pau Castell, a professor of modern history at the University of Barcelona.

Pro-independence and left-wing groups say the women were “victims of misogynistic persecution” and want their memory honoured by naming streets after them.

Tens of thousands of mostly women are believed to have been condemned to death for witchcraft across Europe.

The move follows similar initiatives in Scotland, Switzerland and Norway.

“Before they called us witches, now they call us ‘feminazis’ or hysterical or sexually frustrated. Before they carried out witch hunts, now we call them femicides,” said regional deputy Jenn Diaz of the ruling ERC, according to the AFP news agency.

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