Torture In The Witch Trials

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Imagine living life in fear of being hanged or burned to death on accusation of witchcraft. This was the reality for countless men and women alike, during the Witch Trials of the mid-1600s. One such person was a homeless woman named Sarah Good. Good was considered a burden to society, therefore accused of witchcraft and sentenced to be hanged. Although she was pardoned until the birth of her child, that same child perished in prison before her execution (Jobe). This case is one of the hundreds to occur during the time of the Witch Trials. Numerous accounts of torture and death are recorded in American history, with these heinous crimes being committed on the exact soil we walk on every day. Based on the evidence used against the supposed…show more content…
The use of illegitimate evidence was validated because the unethical mindset of those in power, therefore influencing society as a whole. The data used to incriminate these individuals included, public confession and ownership of the “devil’s mark”. Ocksreider states, “...The magistrates openly encouraged public confessions. To elicit such confessions, the prosecuted were often subjected to stand for lengthy periods without sleep or food while being questioned” (Pg. 14). Using torture as a way to extract evidence is an inhumane way to treat those under accusation. To argue that a confession given under these circumstances is legitimate is a false claim. This is due to the victim's mindset being compromised by the extreme and extensive methods of torture they sustained. Another example of the unacceptable information used in court against those accused is the presence of the “devil’s mark”. Darr in her article, The Devil's Mark: a Socio-Cultural Analysis of Physical Evidence, states that “The belief was that the devil branded the bodies of witches with symbolic yet concrete corporeal malformations such as marks and growths” (361). In other words, they searched for a body deformity such as a mole, birthmark, or rash. Similar to public confessions, using natural-born marks as evidence against the accused is invalid, as this does not accurately prove the suspect to be a witch. To find these marks, Darr explains that, “They were stripped naked, sometimes having their bodies completely shaved, and every part of their bodies was thoroughly examined.” Furthermore, the violation of privacy to find these marks is an inhumane and animalistic practice. Therefore, using illegitimate and compromising proof against those convicted of witchcraft is not only dehumanizing and corrupt, it further reinforces that these trials

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