Friday, July 31, 2009

Witch Trials in Modern India

I have read a lot of books on the Salem witch trials. And I have been horrified by it, as I ought to be. Most of us think of it as something which is in the past, and simply move on after deploring the past with platitudes.

Is it in the past? And gone? Not so. Here I will highlight that aspect. Witch trials are still happening in today's India. Scary, isn't it?

What is the reason that it still persists? Superstition? Religion? Those do not even scratch the surface. It is more on the lines of property rights. Brand a woman as a witch, throw her out of the village and grab her property. It happens with those women who have no family support and no one to speak for them other than themselves. Some times it is also done to settle scores against women who have spurned sexual advances from powerful men. Those women too aren't spared who question the societal norms or go against it. How can a man's ego, any man's ego, stand that?

Mostly childless and helpless widows face the brunt because the husband's family don't want to share their property with her and want her gone from their fold. The villager elders instead of supporting the woman even instigate the perprators for woman to be thrown out or sometimes killed. When mobs come out what does a woman do? The law either turns a blind eye or turns up after the deed is done. With virtually no witnesses, the culprits go scot-free.

Sometimes religious beliefs too allow a woman to be tortured. Hinduism too has stories about witches and if something happens to someone, the woman is blamed and all come out against her. In recent years, as many as 700 women have been hunted down as witches.

Most of the witch trials end up in killing. NGOs have come up, spreading awareness, providing for helpless females but it still isn't enough. As long the feudal spirit persists, superstition rules the roost, spreading awareness will not help.

Frankly, the Govt is apathetic too, which is a shame. Maybe it thinks, brushing it under the carpet will make it go away.

9 comments:

Vivienne said...

Oh my! I cannot believe that this still goes on. I didn't believe it at first, but now I am just plain shocked. Those poor women tortured like that. Is there a group protesting about this at all, or a group helping these women?

C. B. James said...

It's good for us all the hear what things are like all over the world. I think, too often we believe our lives are like everyone's lives. That is not so.

Some things may be better, others much worse. We all have work to do.

Jo-Jo said...

This is just awful that people have to deal with having their lives turned upside-down just so they are no longer a bother. Thanks for sharing this with us-it's a good reality check as to what life is like for people in other countries.

christina said...

That is absolutely insane to me. Really. I'm mortified.

Staci said...

I believe it goes on more than anyone would realize!! There are still cultures that are dictated by extreme superstition...

Teddy Rose said...

I have read about this and know it is still going on. It is too bad that the government doesn't step up to the plate and create laws to protect women and children. Oh, but silly me the government is corrupt and not there to serve it's people.

They also turn a blind eye to children being sold into prostitution.

stacybuckeye said...

700 in recent years? That is shocking!

Rebecca :) said...

That is so unbelievable. Is this happening in only certain areas of India?

Rayna said...

I came via a blog that you had commented on, which I had gone to through another blog I follow!

Am from India too, and I too feel so helpless when I read about the 'other India' that is so far removed from our middle class existance, but which very much exists. You may want to read today's post on my blog, and the one I posted on Saturday - the other India, again.