Skeptic News: In rural India it's always the season of the witch

From: DNA India

The brutal killing of three tribal women in a village in West Midnapore district on accusations of practicing witchcraft by a village group on October 18, 2012 highlights the myriad ways in which women are oppressed and exploited.

Particularly rampant in the tribal areas of central and eastern India, branding women from marginalised and weaker sections of the society (more than often their own community members are in collusion with the privileged and powerful) as witches is a common practice.

uperstition defines societal mindset against women in many forms, Ranjana Kumari, President of centre for social research, Delhi says, “India has a patriarchal society and women here are tortured in the name of many myths and taboos. Crimes relating to witch-hunting are basically committed against the women by family members along with the village authorities and so, the State’s responsibility towards the victim is highly necessary but unfortunately the rising torture trend show that the government has actually failed to act against this heinous crime.”

Ignorance on mental disorders and other physical ailments further feeds into puritan mindset. “It is really very unfortunate that women who behave differently due to their mental health or hormonal changes are often taken as culprits of witchcrafts and thus, face tremendous tortures,” she adds

ZRG analysis shows Odisha, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh, traditionally unsafe states for women, lead in crimes under the category of witchcraft.

According to the National Crime Record Bureau data, since 2008, 768 women have been murdered for practicing witchcraft. Their numbers are adding up each year. A Zee Research Group (ZRG) analysis shows that states like Karnataka and Chhattisgarh that reported zero and eight murders respectively in 2010 due to witchcraft has shown a disturbing increase in just one year. While Karnataka reported an increase of 77 cases in 2011, Chattisgarh increased from eight to 17 cases in 2011.

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