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News :: Organizing
Witch conference underway
01 Jul 2007
Hundreds of women were burned at the stake in Norway's northern city of Vardø in the early 1600s, accused of witchcraft. This week people gathered to draw parallels between the city's dark history and modern-day discrimination.
Aftenposten
29 Jun 2007, 14:49
Hundreds of women were burned at the stake in Norway's northern city of Vardø in the early 1600s, accused of witchcraft. This week people gathered to draw parallels between the city's dark history and modern-day discrimination.

"If we'd lived 300 to 400 years ago, we'd probably have been burned at the stake, too," said a smiling Fisheries Minister Helga Pedersen, with a serious undertone. Pedersen opened the conference in the far northern city on Thursday.

Pedersen said many women were accused of witchcraft because they didn't conform to male expectations at the time. She noted that women continue to face discrimination, and suffer, in many countries around the world, because they don't dress the way men think they should, say things men disagree with or fall in love with someone other than the man their male family members have chosen for them.

She said current researchers on discrimination can learn from what happened in Vardø the 1600s.

Conference founder Ritta Leinonen says that Vardø's history has fascinated many, because of the human destiny and international politics it involved. She believes Vardø was especially hard-hit since the fishing village in a tough northern climate bred many strong and independent women.

Norway was under Danish rule in the 1600s, and the Danish authorities sent pastors to the northern reaches of the country who weren't used to women who had opinions of their own. They responded with witchcraft allegations, perhaps because they felt threatened.

"Those who were labelled as witches would probably be called clever and innovative today," said Leinonen.

http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article1862963.ece

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