Thousands of people were convicted of practicing witchcraft in Scotland in a hunt that spanned nearly two centuries — and the majority of those sentenced to death and executed were women. Many were also tortured.
Now, a bill proposed in the Scottish Parliament is trying to set the record straight, said Natalie Don, a Scottish lawmaker who introduced the proposal. It could allow for posthumous pardons to thousands of women who faced convictions hundreds of years ago.
The pardons would ensure they are “recognized as victims of a miscarriage of justice and are no longer recorded in history as criminals,” Don said Thursday in a video.
Calls for legal pardons for “witches” or “necromancers” have gathered pace in Scotland, where the country’s most senior politician, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, issued a formal apology in March to those vilified under the Witchcraft Act. The act, which was in effect from 1563 to 1736, made practicing witchcraft punishable by death.
“It was injustice on a colossal scale, driven at least in part by misogyny,” Sturgeon said on International Women’s Day. “They were accused and killed because they were poor, different, vulnerable or in many cases just because they were women.”