STORIES FROM THE PULITZER CENTER: WITCH HUNTS TODAY
January 25, 2018
Looking around on the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting website, you’ll find a lot of stories on parts of the world you’ve never heard of. Even more interesting are the issues going on in some of these places. One story that caught my eye was a story on witch hunts in India and the overwhelming presence of the patriarchy.
This story follows a number of women in rural India who have been accused of witchcraft or dakan. The events that cause them to be accused of being dakan range from the death of male house members (who had been sick for a while and lacked medical attention because of their location) to the confrontation of male relatives defecating in the women’s crops.
When the death of the village men happened, three women were accused of feasting on their souls. For this, these women were beaten with a pipe until they were bleeding and their bones broke. This incident was not reported as a witch-hunting to the police, which does not help the women’s case in stopping incidents like this.
According to the article, more than 2,500 Indians have been hunted, tortured or killed between 2000 and 2016. Most people accused of being a witch or dakan are women. This reasoning lies heavily on the culture’s patriarchy and practice of blaming women.
I find these hunts to be wild and something that shouldn’t be happening anymore. My first impression of this story was “I haven’t heard of a witch hunt since the Salem Witch Trials.” The thought of witch hunts is archaic and usually derives from men feeling repressed or unhappy about something in society.
The author offers a good reasoning of the men of India feeling repressed because of the “inequalities between rural and urban communities.” Which makes sense because rural areas aren’t being used as much for agricultural purposes so the men are taking this frustration out on the women and blaming them for this bad fortune.
Now, there are support groups for women battling these issues, giving them refuge and a safe place to talk about their experiences. The group, ANANDI, is hoping to raise awareness of these witch hunts because until recently, most cases were not filed as witch hunts with the police department. This becomes a problem because if the police do not see it as a recurring issue, nothing will be done.
Today, ANANDI is not only offering women affected by this issue refuge but is also advocating to bring this issue into the public light more and more and hopefully end Indian witch hunting altogether, in hopes that one day men and women will be able to operate equally within Indian society.
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