National gold medalist, Debjani Bora, was attacked by a local mob after being accused of practicing witchcraft in the latest witch hunt in India.
Earlier in the week, in the small village of Karbi Anglong in India, where Debjani Bora lives, a witch hunt was organized to find and punish a suspected witch after members of their village reportedly died from alcoholism-related complications and suicide over the past few months. At the meeting, an elderly woman is said to have pointed Debjani Bora out as the witch, and the crowd viciously attacked her. Bora spoke to local press of her ordeal.
"Instead of finding out why all the deaths occurred, some village elders suspected a witch was driving the people to death and organized a prayer. As the villagers were chanting hymns, one elderly woman identified me as the witch and shouted that I should be punished," said the nation's javelin gold medalist.
At least one arrest has been made so far, and although the torturous beating that Bora received in the witch hunt was so severe that she was unconscious and required medical treatment, authorities say she was one of the lucky ones. Nearly 100 people in India have been burned alive, beheaded, or viciously stabbed to death for being accused of practicing witchcraft in the numerous witch hunts over the past five years, and many more have been brutally attacked, beaten, and harassed after being labeled a witch.
If you thought that the witch hunts were a thing of the past, think again. India is not the only place where women are being beaten, and even killed, in modern day witch hunts. Just this past month, a witch hunt in Tanzania killed seven people who were burned at the stake for being suspected witches. Family members of the elderly victims say they were brutally attacked, tortured, and burned alive by the village in Tanzania's latest which hunt, when the local witchdoctor accused them of being witches.
In Nigeria, two 8-year-old children were tortured, beaten unconscious, and dumped on the streets where they lived after family members accused them of being witches. In South Africa, authorities instituted an Occult Crimes Unit to hunt down witches, practitioners of magick, vampyres, and others in the occult or pagan community. Even in England, authorities say that child abuse is on the rise as family members accuse children of being witches.
While some shows like Charmed and Witches of East End, and the popularity of Harry Potter, have tried to redeem the image of the witch in the media over the past few years, witches are still culturally portrayed as evil consorts of the devil who must be put to death, exorcised, or banished from the community. These victims have little recourse, and in most cases, no voice. Even though arrests of individuals and entire villages occur, it is doing little to curb the violence and oppression of religious freedom which almost always targets women and children in these vicious witch hunts.