The Regulation of Witchcraft and Sorcery Practices and Beliefs

Posted: 18 Nov 2016

See all articles by Miranda Forsyth

Miranda Forsyth

School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet)

Date Written: October 2016


This article reviews and analyzes the growing bodies of literature on the regulation of sorcery and witchcraft beliefs and practices. The most visible problems relating to these beliefs and practices are the violent exorcisms, banishment, torture, and killing inflicted upon those accused of practicing sorcery and witchcraft in many parts of the global South. Sorcery and witchcraft are also (once again) becoming a challenge for countries in the global North, mainly within migrant communities in relation to children accused of witchcraft and exorcized and also in the context of claims to refugee status and freedom of religion. The article covers scholarly literature (legal, anthropological, economic, historical), law reform commission reports, nongovernmental organization (NGO) reports, and UN documents over the past 15 years concerning the regulation of the negative societal impacts of sorcery and witchcraft practices and beliefs. It concludes that there is a need for greater empirical study of the impacts of various regulatory initiatives adopted and promoted by national governments, NGOs, and international organizations.

Suggested Citation

Forsyth, Miranda, The Regulation of Witchcraft and Sorcery Practices and Beliefs (October 2016). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 12, pp. 331-351, 2016. Available at SSRN: or

Miranda Forsyth (Contact Author)

School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

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