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Ron: "Never heard of it."
Hermione: "Well, of course you haven't. I've only just started it."
Ron: "And how many members do you have?"
Hermione: "Well, if you two join, three."
— The beginning of S.P.E.W.[src]

The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare (S.P.E.W.) was an organisation founded in 1994 by Hermione Granger in response to what she saw as gross injustice in the treatment of house-elves at the 1994 Quidditch World Cup.[1]

Having been deeply upset at the treatment and general prospects of house-elves, both in Hogwarts and the rest of the wizarding world, Hermione set up S.P.E.W. in order to champion their rights and question their standing in wizarding law and Elf Legislation. She originally wanted to call the organisation "Stop the Outrageous Abuse of Our Fellow Magical Creatures and Campaign for a Change in Their Legal Status". Since it would not fit on a badge, it was given its current name, though the original name was retained as the heading of the group's manifesto.

Founding

"You know, house-elves get a very raw deal! It's slavery, that's what it is! That Mr Crouch made her go up to the top of the stadium, and she was terrified, and he's got her bewitched so she can't even run when they start trampling tents! Why doesn't anyone do something about it?"
—Hermione Granger after witnessing the bad treatment of Winky[src]
B4C14M2 Hedwig's Gryffindor Common Room delivery

The first "meeting" of S.P.E.W

Hermione Granger thought it cruel that house-elves were neither paid nor given holidays for their work, so she campaigned tirelessly for a change in their working conditions. She managed to get several students, such as Neville Longbottom, to join (paying a fee of two Sickles), though they only did so to stop her from badgering them. These students included a reluctant Ron Weasley (who thought S.P.E.W was a joke because its name reminded him of gagging) and an indifferent Harry Potter. However, their sickles were overall wasted, as she kept badgering them about the issues of the organisation.[1]

She would go round the Gryffindor common room shaking her S.P.E.W. badge box at people to make them join. A few seemed interested, but refused when they found they had to pay. Apparently a few other people looked "mildly interested" in the campaign, but there are no further reports of anyone else actually becoming a member. She also offered it to Hagrid, but he refused as well, saying that the elves liked to work. Fred and George Weasley also put in that the house elves were happy to work at Hogwarts. The rest of the school thought of the organisation as a joke. And so, with little or no support from her unwilling deputies, Hermione battled on pretty much alone, employing tactics such as badge-making and petitioning, but with very little effect. Eventually, she started knitting hats and socks, which she left lying around Gryffindor Tower, hoping to free some unsuspecting elf who picked them up while cleaning the common room.[1]

Becoming infuriated with Hermione's "obsession" with the Society, Ron Weasley started calling the group "spew" and, on occasion parodied the name by inventing S.P.U.G., "Society for the Protection of Ugly Goblins". Hermione angrily replied to this by pointing out that Goblins, unlike house-elves, were capable of defending themselves against wizards on their own.[1]

House-elves' reaction

While she was busy knitting clothes to give them in order to set them free, the majority of house-elves were accustomed to their work and seemed to enjoy it. They regarded Hermione's actions as insults to their race. Thus, they refused to clean the Gryffindor common room any more, meaning that Dobby was the only one prepared to carry out this task. Already being free himself, he took all the clothes himself, wore most of them (making a tower of hats on top of his head), and passed some of the others on to Winky in the false hopes of cheering her up.[1] Hermione was not informed of this development, as no one had the heart to tell her.

Impact

Ron Weasley: "Hang on a moment! We've forgotten someone! The house-elves, they'll all be down in the kitchen, won't they?"
Harry Potter: "You mean we ought to get them fighting?"
Ron Weasley: "No, I mean we should tell them to get out. We don't want any more Dobbies, do we? We can’t order them to die for us–"
— Ron finally becoming a S.P.E.W. supporter[src]

In spite of all this, there are indications that S.P.E.W. did eventually enjoy some moderate success, though it is likely that by then it was disbanded. Hogwarts' house-elves participated in the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998, in an unusually bold move for their kind, although this may have been a manifestation of their extreme loyalty to their "masters". However, it is possible that their contribution to the battle changed some people's views, as even Ron Weasley, a previous vocal critic of S.P.E.W., demonstrated concern and sympathy for the plight for house-elves at the time, which prompted Hermione to kiss him.[2]

Also, founder Hermione Granger went on to work for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures at the Ministry of Magic, where she continued to work for the rights of magical creatures.[3] She may have re-founded SPEW as a semi-department and part of her Department.

Hermione's idea that house-elves should be treated decently led to Harry attempting to be kind to house-elf, Kreacher, which caused Kreacher to be pleasant in return and tell Harry the story of his master Regulus Black's visit to the horcrux cave.[2]

Known members

Behind the scenes

  • As Winky, Dobby, and all of the Hogwarts house-elves were omitted from the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hermione was never seen stubbornly advocating their rights, thus S.P.E.W. has never been mentioned in the films. It was, however, mentioned in the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when talking to Hermione.
  • Hermione had founded S.P.E.W. because she saw Winky being mistreated and forcibly set free by Mr Crouch. Ironically, one of her campaigns was to set elves free, but in a more civil manner.
  • While Harry and Ron were said to be secretary and treasurer of the group, respectively, both roles were appointed by Hermione before they agreed to join the group. Never was either said to have actually have accepted these roles, nor were they ever depicted as acting in them.
  • It is highly possible that the organisation was named after the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women (SPEW). The organisation is one of the earliest British women's organisations.[4]

Translations

Language Abbreviation and notes Full name and meaning
Bulgarian S.M.R.A.D.

smrad "stink"

Сдружение на магьосници за равноправие и авторитет на духчетата
"Association of wizards for equality and authority of house-elves"
Catalan P.E.T.

pet "a fart"

Prou d'Elfs Tiranitzats
"Enough of Enslaved Elves"
Croatian Z.B.LJ.U.V.

As the shortened version of izbljuvak, zbljuv "vomit"

Zajednica za boljitak ugnjetavanih vilenjaka
"The Society for the Benefit of Oppressed Elves"
Czech S.P.O.Ž.Ú.S.

spožús doesn't exist in Czech, just sounds funny

Společnost pro Podporu Občanské a Životní Úrovně Skřítků
"Movement for Better Social and Life Rights of Elves"
Danish F.A.R.

far "dad"

Foreningen for Alfers Rettigheder
"Society for Elves' Rights"
Dutch S.H.I.T.

English swear word, "faeces"

Stichting Huiself voor Inburgering en Tolerantie
"House-Elf Foundation for Civic Integration & Tolerance"
Faroese V.A.M.L

vaml "nausea"

Virði alt minnivirt lív
"Respect all inferior life"
Finnish S.Y.L.K.Y.

sylky "spitting" or "spit"

Samat Yhteiset Lait Kotitontuillekkin -Yhdistys
"Same Common Rights for House-Elves -Association"
French S.A.L.E.

sale "dirty"

Société d'Aide à la Libération des Elfes
"Society for Helping the Release of the Elves"
Georgian ედამ (E.D.A.M.)

Similar to ელამ "squint-eyed"

ელფთა დამოუკიდებლობის აღდგენის მოძრაობა
(Elpta Damouk'ideblobis Aghdgenis Modzraoba)

"Movement of Restoration of Elf Independence"
German B.ELFE.R

belfer doesn't exist in German, but sounds similar to helfer "someone who helps"

Bund für Elfenrechte
"Alliance for the Rights of Elves"
Greek Μ.Υ.Ξ.Α.

ΜΥΞΑ "snot"

Μέτωπο Υπέρ Ξωτικών Αναξιοπαθούντων
Hebrew אלרג"ה

Similar to אלרגיה "allergy"

אגודה למען רווחת גמדוני הבית
"Association for the Welfare of House Elves"
Hungarian M.A.J.O.M.

majom "monkey"

Manók Alkotmányos Jogaiért Országos Mozgalom
"National Movement for the Constitutional Rights of Elves"
Icelandic S.Á.R.

sár "wound"

Samtök um Álfaréttindi
"Society of Elf Rights"
Italian C.R.E.P.A.

crepa is the third person singular simple present (or the second person singular imperative) of the verb crepare, Italian jargon for morire "to die"

Comitato per la Riabilitazione degli Elfi Poveri e Abbruttiti, changed in later versions to Comitato per la Riabilitazione degli Elfi Proletari e Alienati
Latvian V.E.M.T.

vemt "to vomit"

Vergojošo elfu maznodrošinātās tiesības
Lithuanian E.G.G.D. Elfų Gerovės Gynimo Draugija
Norwegian H.I.K.K.

hikk "hiccup"

Husnissenes Internasjonale Kampkoalisjon
Polish W.E.S.Z.

wesz "louse"

Walka o Emancypację Skrzatów Zniewolonych
"The struggle/battle for the Emancipation of Enslaved Elves"
Portuguese (Europe) B.A.B.E.

babe "drool"

Brigada de Apoio ao Bem-estar dos Elfos
"Brigade to Support the Welfare of Elves"
Portuguese (Brazil) F.A.L.E.

fale "say"

Fundação de Apoio à Libertação dos Elfos
"Foundation to Support the Liberation of the Elves"
Romanian S.P.A.S. Societatea Pentru Apărarea Spiridușilor
"Society For Protecting Elves"
Russian ГАВНЭ (G.A.V.N.E.)

The acronym translates into an English swear word, "faeces"

Гражданская Ассоциация Восстановления Независимости Эльфов
(Grazhdanskaya Assotsiatsiya Vostanovleniya Nezavisimosti El'fov)

"Civic Association for the Restoration of the Indepence of Elves"
Serbian У.Б.Љ.У.В. (U.B.Lj.U.V.)

As the shortened version of избљувак (izbljuvak), Убљув (zbljuv) "vomit"

Удружење Бораца за Људска Права Угрожених Вилењака
(Udruženje Boraca za Ljudska Prava Ugroženih Vilenjaka)

"Association of Fighters for a Human Rights of Vulnerable Elves"
Slovak S.O.P.L.O.Š.

soploš may mean "the one who produces snot"

Spoločnosť pre ochranu práv a legálne oslobodenie škriatkov
Slovenian B.R.U.H.V.

bruh is the stem of bruhati "to vomit"

Bratovščina razsvetljevalcev ubogih hišnih vilincev
Spanish P.E.D.D.O.

peddo is a namesake word for pedo "a fart"

Plataforma Élfica de Defensa de los Derechos Obreros
"Elvish Platform for the Defence of the Worker Rights"
Swedish F.I.S.A

fisa "to fart"

Föreningen för Ideellt Stöd åt Alferna
Thai ส.ร.ร.ส.อ. สนับสนุนสมาคมเรียกร้องสิทธิเอลฟ์
(Sanapsanun Samakma Riak Rong Sitthi En)

"Support Elf Rights Association"
Turkish E.R.İ.T.

erit "melt"

Ev Cini Refahını İlerletme Topluluğu
"The Society for Prosecution of House Elves' Ease"
Ukrainian ССЕЧА (S.S.E.Ch.A.)

Sounds like сеча (secha) "urine"

Спілка Сприяння Ельфам-Чорноробам Англії


See also

Appearances

Notes and references

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