Five women in the Indian province of Jharkhand were killed as witches by an angry mob after suffering accusations of witchcraft. These latest victims join as many as 44 other women in the area who were also brutally murdered for allegedly being witches this year.
Women in the state of Jharkhand are often accused of being the cause of misfortune in the state. When villages suffer from poor crop yields or illness, some villagers blame local women who are killed as witches.
Jharkhand is a state in eastern India. Murders of this kind are most common in this state, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. Approximately 37 percent of all witchcraft-related murders occur in Jharkhand. The state of Haryana is not far behind, however, there have been no new cases of women killed as witches in Haryana in the last few years.
An angry mob took the five women from their homes in the middle of the night. The women were then killed as witches with knives and sticks. The crowd put their bodies into sacks and left them outside of the village.
Police have attempted to crack down on these killings. Local police arrested almost 50 people from the village who may have caused the deaths of the women killed as witches. Local police told reporters that the entire village had taken part in the angry mob that killed these women.
The villagers have not yet shown any remorse about the murder of these women.
The village justified the killing the women as witches because a 17-year-old blamed the cause of their illness on witchcraft. Only four days later, the teenager died of an unknown illness.
These crimes are not uncommon in India. Belief in witchcraft is widespread. This is especially true in rural and impoverished areas.
While belief in the occult continues to exist throughout India, many of these murders have other motivations. Women are the primary targets of being killed as witches. In some cases, elderly widows are the targets so that the village can relieve them of the property they own.
The issues underlying modern witch hunts are complex. While they primarily occur in poor and rural areas, educated people in developed areas may take part as well.
One of the primary causes of this violence is a lack of literacy and healthcare throughout the country. Women who are suffering from changes in hormones or for an unbalanced state of mental health receive treatments from a traditional medicine man rather than modern doctors.
Witchcraft is also a reflection of India’s caste system. Members of India’s upper castes will brand poorer people of lower castes as witches in order to popularize a stigma towards them, causing more women to be killed as witches.
This latest killing comes only weeks after Purni Orang was beheaded by her village. She was accused of placing a curse on her tribe. The murder occurred in the Sonitpur district of Assam.
[Photo by Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images]