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DNA Exclusive: Analysis of superstitions against women in villages


New Delhi: Although there have been several technological triumphs in our country, people’s obsession with meaningless superstitions still exists. Women are more often than not the victims of such superstitions. In a recent case, 3 women were beaten to death in Ranadih village near Ranchi district of Jharkhand as they were accused of being ‘witches’. The villagers suspected that the women residing in the village were ‘ichhadhari serpents’. This refers to the myth of a serpent that lives in the guise of a woman during the day and becomes a serpent at night. 

In today’s DNA, Zee News’ Rohit Ranjan will analyze how superstition against women is still prevalent in remote parts of the country and leads to more than 100 deaths per year. 

 

The women were labelled ‘ichhadhari serpents’ by a healer or ‘Ojha’. A few villagers had been bit by a snake in the past. To investigate this, the ‘ojha’ was called and he concluded that it was the three women who were actually serpents. The villagers have reportedly stopped speaking about the killings of the women but police are investigating the case.

Many people think these incidents are very rare and that they don’t happen anymore. However, the data speaks a different story. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, between 2001 and 2020, 2,885 women were killed as witches in the country. That is, every year 144 women were killed as witches. Jharkhand tops the list in such incidents, where 590 women have been killed as witches in the last 20 years. Odisha is second with 506 murders and Andhra Pradesh is third with 409 murders.

Cases of killing by calling them witches are especially seen in tribal areas. This is still a major problem in rural areas. There are different reasons as to why a particular woman may be accused of being a witch such as: 

  • Jealousy and any personal self-interest of someone
  • Property dispute or land grab conspiracy
  • To be healed by the tantric-exorcist

Although there are awareness programs in Jharkhand for this issue, there is still a stronger belief in ‘tantriks’ and supernatural healers over laws and officials.