Salem Witch Trials
Summer is buzzing. Warm weather has brought delightful tourists far and wide to the historical City called Salem. Tours of haunted sites and memorials set up to prompt us to remember the infamous Witch Trials that started in 1692.
Victims convicted and executed of practicing Witchcraft include Bridget Bishop, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, George Burroughs, George Jacobs Sr., Martha Carrier, John Proctor, Giles Corey, John Willard, Mary Eastey, Mary Parker, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Wilmot Redd, Margaret Scott, Samuel Wardwell Sr. and Ann Foster, who dies while in custody.
Most of us know the story, regardless of a little blurb in our High School History Books. A group of girls rebel and then claim that they are processed by the devil. They start accusing several local women of Witchcraft which creates a hysteria.
We can only imagine how much attention these girls received, especially in a time when women had little value except to taking care of the homestead. Thrown into the spotlight. I imagine they felt quite star struck and enjoyed the excitement for a while.
Our Legal System
It is easy to look back and make judgement on the legal system during that event and time period. After-all it wasn’t until the colony’s Governor Sir William Phips own wife was accused of witchcraft did he finally put an end to the trials.
We look back with rage and disbelief but what about our legal system today. How many of you have gone in a court room and just listened to a trial? It is very much like a chess game.
Jurors do not hear all the truth, only bits and pieces and then must decide which side has put on the better performance. Wording and interpretation is the key factor.
As humans, it is easy to say that we take things wrong all the time. In a courtroom, you expect that the truth will prevail, that common sense will help in the deciding factor. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth.
Remember that in the Witch Trials, the key evidence was the girls testimonies as witnesses. They pointed and acted out in such a way, that the Judge took their word against an innocent victim’s. Keep in mind most of these girls were teenagers. Teenager words against established men and women of the colony.Sounds scary, right? If you lived in this time period and you upset someone, you could be accused and hung for witchcraft. It did not matter what kind of person you were before that. One little mistake, one little disagreement, one little look that someone else took wrong, and suddenly you find yourself being sentence to death. Crazy, right?
Yet, the same thing happens today on a different level. Rape laws protect the ‘supposed’ victim and treat the accused as if they were already guilty. This is mostly in the case of girls/women vs boys/men. If you are accused of rape, many times it is one word against the other.
I know many women who have not had justice served because their sexual abuser was not convicted or even charge. But I also know many sons, brothers and men that have been accused and never fully recovered, even if they were found not guilty or there wasn’t enough evidence to go to trial. Trust me, I do believe that this has happened for a reason. It is like the Domestic Abuse laws.
At one time in history, if a woman was abused, she deserved it. It was a family matter, no one cared, she was just a woman. People would turn their heads and pretend that it wasn’t happening. Thank Goddess this has changed but what about the men that are being abused by women? They appear weak if they go for help and if they do, they are sometimes ridiculed for doing so.
The Real Problem
Getting to the real problem, is that old laws need to be changed. Just like the trials of Salem, our laws remain intact until a friend, relative or love one is charged, and we see the process first hand. I agree that women need to be protected but so do men.
Romeo and Juliet laws need to be in place in every state, character and previous actions of the accuser need to be allowed in court. It is time for balance, it is time for change, it is time for equality regardless if you are male or female, what your color or sexual preference is, and even if you are loud and stand up for yourself. The time for change is now and it starts with each and every one of us. What can you do to help?
Get involved with your state’s representatives, check to see if they are trying to pass the Romeo and Juliet law. You can read more about it here:
Stand up for both men and women. If you see something that looks like abuse, it probably is. Call your local authorities.