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Catalonia's parliament pardons hundreds of women executed for 'witchcraft'

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By AFP  with Euronews
A woman dressed up as a witch during Halloween celebrations near Malaga in 2017.
A woman dressed up as a witch during Halloween celebrations near Malaga in 2017.   -   Copyright  JORGE GUERRERO / AFP, FILE

Catalonia's parliament has formally pardoned hundreds of women who were executed for "witchcraft" between the 15th and 18th centuries.

MPs in the Spanish region approved a resolution on Wednesday that rehabilitates the memory of more than 700 women who were "tried, tortured and executed".

Pro-independence and left-wing MPs said the women were "victims of misogynistic persecution" and have called for some of Catalonia's streets to be named after the persecuted "witches".

Historians believe that the majority of "witchcraft" executions in Spain took place in the northeastern region. Catalonia was also one of the first areas in Europe where anti-witchcraft acts were carried out in 1471.

The Catalonian parliament used research by the local scientific journal Sapiens and Barcelona historian Pau Castell to call for the resolution.

Witches were frequently blamed for the sudden death of children or for natural disasters and poor harvests, Castell said.

An estimated 50,000 people were condemned to death for "witchcraft across Europe" between 1580 and 1630, around 80% of whom were women.

More than 100 European historians recently signed a manifesto entitled "They weren’t witches, they were women".

A large majority of 114 MPs voted in favour of the pardon, while 14 were against and six abstained from voting.

The Spanish region of Navarre had already addressed the historical persecution of "witches," as well as Norway, Switzerland, and Scotland.