16 elderly women were killed between January and November this year, after accused of being witches, in the district of Marromeu, in the central Mozambican province of Sofala, according to a report in the Beira daily paper "Diario de Mocambique".
The issue was raised during a demonstration in Beira against violence against women, organized by the NGO Action for Community Development (ASADEC).
In a message presented at the protest, a group of elderly women said that when a young man does not achieve success in his life, perhaps because he fails to find a job, the first person he blames for his situation is an old woman in the family, claiming that she has cursed him.
"These situations are becoming common in our society" referred the message of the elderly, asking "is being old sufficient reason for being considered a witch and being condemned to death?"
In the first half of this year, the Sofala Provincial Directorate of Women's Affairs and Social Welfare (DPMAS) assisted 1,580 victims of violence, including elderly women accused of practicing witchcraft.
On behalf of the government, Anibal Nhampossa, Director of Tourism in Sofala, appealed to those present on the demonstration to respect human rights and basic rules for living together. Excuses for violence, such as witchcraft, had no rationale.
The Provincial Director for Women's Affairs, Diquessone Tole, said the march served to express outrage against the violence.
"We have been making efforts to reduce rates of violence by publicizing the laws against domestic violence, child trafficking and other social legal instruments, aimed at creating a new environment of human relationship in society", Tole said.