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The list of atrocities on women is really long specially in India. But one that we most often forget is “woman being accused of witchcraft”
“I am innocent, I know nothing of it, I have done no witchcraft, I am as innocent as an unborn child”
– Bridget Bishop
1692-1693 Salem Witch trials.
The history that never made it to our textbooks or to the so-called learned generation of India but did very conveniently reach to the underdeveloped parts of rural India where a woman like Tirtha Bai from Chhattisgarh(take from a documentary) is seen to say the same lines when she was stripped naked and brutally beaten up by her fellow neighbours as she was branded to be a witch.
The count of woman like her in the past few decades who have been brutally beaten, made to drink human excretion and for the worst cases are beheaded or burnt alive have raised to 400-500 a year in each state.
Various laws in different states of India like Jharkhand, Assam and Rajasthan have been implemented but that just brought down the number of counts while the myth still prevails.
States do take pride in saying cases marked have lowered but they fail to understand that those were just the reported ones while the unreported ones never came out of cover.
Reading about it I did go back in my childhood where I lived in such a coal belt of India where a woman was regarded as witchy and I had seen a lady being called one right in front of my eyes.
I was very small when people around used to ask children like me not to look at that aunty, not to eat if she gives something and not to go and talk to her. That’s how a half learned colony treated her with few learned men who never paid heed towards that.
She belonged to a lower class but was a beautiful woman so much so that anyone could get attached to her beauty. One day she died and no one absolutely no one was ready for her last rites as the night before she was found praying under a banyan tree.
The body was handed over to the municipal corporation and they did the needful. When I grew up I did go to that colony again and found her extended family staying over her house and when I asked them they said that “witchy” aunty was fasting without water and had died because of dehydration. That’s when I decided to read about this issue and as I did I came across various reason that leads to such myths.
There are various reasons that people tend to believe on these myths, but the biggest amongst them is this dire need of men to rule and they think this is an anthropocentric society where men are supposed to be higher than women.
I did find Various reasons that lead to such beliefs such as:
•witch doctors claiming to have supernatural powers
• fear of the evil
• cast difference
• psychology disorder
• society living like a heard of sheep
And out of all of them, I realized the last two have the most to do with this accusation. There’s a phobia that’s called Caliegynephobia, Gynephobia where men are actually scared of woman, they are scared to talk to them or even if they are around and this when adds with the feeling of being inferior with a cherry on the cake being that “ego” factor in men leads to aggregation especially because men know a woman can be easy prey.
When people with such phobias are a part of one particular society like the tribal ones where not everyone seems to have an opinion and myth are a big leading factor for them, witchcraft being a huge problem woman continue to get killed like that. As the notion of their existence is to live with the fear of God. Some on the name of powers, some for being independent, some for owning their dead husband’s property and doing good in life
some for not taking bath and some for no reason at all. If their fear wants that to be done they do it. As it is blame game is a favourite of all isn’t it?
And what’s sad is another woman doesn’t even have a say to this myth working as a driving factor to lead this patriarchal bane to its new heights.
Picture credits – TV Show ‘Nazar’
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