Women, on the other hand, were far more likely to be accused of witchcraft. Furthermore, they were more likely to be killed for supposed black magic use. According to most sources, women made up over 75 percent of all those killed for witchcraft in Europe between 1580 and 1630. After 1630, the proportion of female executions drops dramatically, although it is believed that many more people were killed by witches after that time.
The reason for this discrepancy is not clear. Some have suggested that it was due to the fact that men were more likely to be victims of witchcraft than women (since they made up most of the population), so when there were more accusations than cases, it was men who were punished. Others have suggested that perhaps women were more likely to be accusers rather than defendants, since they often had a difficult time proving their innocence. Still others have speculated that perhaps women were simply more likely to be found guilty because of biases built into European law at the time. Whatever the case may be, it's clear that women were far more likely to be executed for witchcraft than men.
In addition to being executed, many women were also tortured by having their organs removed and sold for profit. Women also appeared to be more likely to be persecuted for witchcraft than men; according to some historians, as many as 90 percent of all known witch trials involved only women.
Single women, widows, and other women on the outside of society were particularly targeted. Between 1500 and 1660, up to 80,000 accused witches were executed in Europe. Around 80% of them were women who were supposed to be in cahoots with the Devil and full of desire.
In England alone, thousands of people were tortured and killed because they were thought to be involved in witchcraft. Thousands more were imprisoned without trial or evidence given against them. This number includes men, women, and children. So, yes, even though men were usually responsible for executing witches, women played a role in too.
In France, Germany, and Switzerland, women made up most of the victims of witchcraft. In Italy, most of the witches were men but there also were women who were convicted of this crime.
In Spain, Portugal, and Greece, women made up a large percentage of the victims as well. But men were not spared - in fact, they made up most of the witnesses against women they suspected of being witches.
So, yes, women played a role in witchcraft accusations and executions. Although men were usually responsible for these actions, women often helped out by identifying potential victims or acting as witnesses.
Within a century, witch hunts were prevalent, and the majority of those convicted were burned at the stake or hanged.
Witch hunting began in England with Archbishop Thomas Wolsey. He had doubts about the innocence of Queen Catherine (how honest she was found out when she married Henry VIII), so he ordered an investigation into her alleged witchcraft. The investigators concluded that she used her powers to influence people against Sir Thomas More. She was therefore removed from office and eventually executed. This sent a message to other potential claimants that their sins would be discovered.
In Germany, the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre took place on 1572 when thousands of Protestants were killed by Catholics in France and Belgium. The massacre is often cited as beginning of French Revolution. In Poland, King Sigismund III was forced to abdicate because of his involvement in witch trials.
In America, the Massachusetts Bay Colony established the first public executions for witchcraft. From 1692 to 1730, almost 500 people were tried for witchcraft and almost 100 of them were hanged. It is estimated that between one-third and one-half of all women arrested for witchcraft were actually involved in witchcraft rituals.