Monday, December 21, 2009

witch craft

Killing of Women As Witches- Emerging Paradigm in Violence Against Women Calls For Central Legislation
Dr. Preeti Misra* & Dr. Alok Chantia**

* Sr.Lecturer, Dept. of Human Rights, School for Legal Studies, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow; Formerly Lecturer in Dept.of Law, Sri J.N.P.G.College, Lucknow, E-Mail
**Lecturer, Dept. of Anthropology, Sri Jai Narain Post Graduate College, Lucknow, E-Mail

Today Witchcraft (Dayan Pratha) is an emerging paradigm of violence against women, it is an antithesis of empowerment of women. The belief in witchcraft and its practice seem to have been widespread in the world over. In India in the Vedic Age, witches were recognized and called as yogins. In present Indian society the phenomenon of witchcraft is not only prevalent in tribal and rural societies but is also spreading in modern urban societies. Superstition and faith in witchcraft play a major role in carrying out violence against women. The UN has also released figures of the victims of witchcraft and black magic around the world. The UNO has named India along with countries in Africa, Asia and South America as a high-incidence zone for witchcraft related killings.
In India, the highest incidence of witchcraft-related crimes occur in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. But only a few Indian states have outlawed witch-hunting. As the fear of witchcraft and its existence is culturally rooted, sometimes even the lower rung of the police and others fail to take note of the violence. At times the criminals escape punishment for their misdeeds. Only 2 percent of people charged with witch-hunting are convicted in court. People go scot-free because witnesses are hard to come by.
The present paper highlights historical and present day phenomenon of witchcraft in tribal, rural and urban societies of India. It makes an in depth analysis of etiology of witchcraft and propagates for a strong central legislation to punish the wrongdoers who in the name of superstition perpetuate all kinds of violence against women. The paper also emphasizes upon the role of society, media, police and judiciary in educating the masses and in combating violence against women in the name of witchcraft.

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