The chief reporter at The Herald newspaper has won the Europe section of a global journalism competition celebrating “outstanding journalistic work covering issues of development, human rights and democracy”.
Lucy Adams was named Europe winner at the Lorenzo Natali awards for an article published in The Herald magazine.
Her article, 'Spellbound: the stigma of witchcraft in Ghana', looked at the persecution of women accused of sorcery.
Said the judges of it: “In this unusual but inspired piece, published in the Herald Magazine, Lucy Adams leads readers to peer into a murky world of traditional values, where the barbaric torture and murder of those said to be practicing the occult remain commonplace. In Ghana – a country lauded in recent times for its rapid development – more than 1,000 women spend their days in what are known as ‘witch camps’. Ostracised and persecuted by the communities to which they formerly belonged, local pastors and often manipulated citizens act as judge, jury and executioner.”
The article was written following Adams' experiences in Ghana, where she recently spent nine months, working for Voluntary Service Overseas.
Now in its 20th year, the Lorenzo Natali prize is organised by the European Commission to “reward journalists reporting in often challenging circumstances, celebrating the ways in which journalism can be a seed of positive change, the inspiration for development, and the engine for democracy and human rights”.
The subjects covered by the prize winners included the double life of homosexuals in Africa, India’s sex ratios, trafficking of children and female genital mutilation.
The were 1,300 entries to this year's competition, worldwide. The overall winner was a four-part TV documentary by Danish journalist, Tom Heinemann, on micro debt.
Adams told allmediascotland: “The award is a tribute to the bravery of the women who spoke to me about the beatings and persecution they suffer solely because of an accusation of witchcraft. All it takes is for women to be ostracised and beaten is a relative or neighbour saying they have had a dream or believe someone to be a witch. Crop failure, illness and ill-fortune are blamed on witchcraft.
“While I was living in Ghana, three elderly women were burnt alive following such allegations. I hope this helps to raise awareness of the problem. My thanks go to ActionAid and the photographer, Nyani Quarmyne, for making the piece possible.”