Dialect Magazine

They still hunt witches, don’t they?

A witch warning sign

“… Historically, the most salient manifestation of the unreserved belief in female power and female evil is evidenced in the tight, recurrent, by-now nearly instinctive association of women and witchcraft.” – Adam Jones of Gendercide Watch© 

People around the world are still hunting witches. Though the barbaric practice was stopped hundreds of years ago in Europe and the United States, it still goes on today in places which include Northern India, parts of Saudi Arabia, New Guinea, South Africa and the Sudan. What is often behind the accusations of contemporary female sorcery? Sometimes it’s a caste system.

 A part of world history

Witchcraft is mentioned in the Old Testament, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians and Homer’s Greek epic, “The Odyssey.” Ancient Rome had witches, as did Europe in the Middle Ages. In America, witches were central to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s well-known 1850 fictional tale, “The Scarlett Letter.” In 1952, playwright Arthur Miller turned the Salem witch trials into a Tony Award winning metaphor that came to describe the activities of the infamous U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy.

For those who believe that “witch-hunting” is an antiquated, extinct ritual, think again. The deadly tradition is alive and well in a variety of areas around the globe. One such location is Nepal. 

Present day “witch-hunting”

Some people still believe in witches

In south Asia, surrounded by China and India, is The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. It is the mystical home of planet Earth’s highest peak, Mt. Everest. Nepal is also a location where women are still murdered for allegedly being witches.

The international news agency AFP, Agence France-Presse, published a staff item on February 17, 2012, “Nepal villager’s burn ‘witchcraft’ suspect alive,” which tells the story of a woman who was blamed for conjuring up evil magic spells:

“Dengani Mahato died after she was severely beaten, doused in kerosene and set alight for allegedly practicing witchcraft, Gopal Bhandari, a superintendent of police in Chitwan district, told AFP.”

In the same AFP article, the police superintendant describes what happened:

“Nine people started to beat her after a local shaman pointed the finger at her over the death of a boy a year ago. They accused her of having hands in the death of the boy, who had drowned in a river.”

What is behind these allegations?

Throughout the past there have been a variety of reasons why women have been the target of witch hunts. In agrarian societies, women may be cited as witches in order to confiscate valuable farm land under their control. In other instances, it may be a question of mass hysteria or dangerously corrupted morality.

According to AFP, in Nepal and the surrounding region, something else is a foot:

“Hundreds of lower-caste women are thought to suffer abuse at the hands of ‘witch hunters’ every year in Nepal, where superstition and caste-based discrimination remain rife and where most communities still operate on strict patriarchal lines.”

Archaic barbarism is alive and well in the 21st century. You just have to look for it.

As a dedicated writer, storyteller, journalist, interviewer and biographer, Paul Wolfle, B.A. ARM, contributes original material to a number of social media sites, online magazines and a popular digital news reporting services. Paul is also the author of eBooks and frequently offers commentary about contemporary music topics.

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