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Oct 20 2009

Which Is Witch?

An extremely sad story today from the BBC, although with a better ending than hundreds of other such stories.

Five women were paraded naked, beaten and forced to eat human excrement by villagers after being branded as witches in India’s Jharkhand state.

Local police said the victims were Muslim widows who had been labelled as witches by a local cleric.

As may be expected, at least two theories are offered to explain the violence–the religious superstition itself, or as a cover for economic motive:

Hundreds of people, mostly women, have been killed in India because their neighbours thought they were witches.

Experts say superstitious beliefs are behind some of these attacks, but there are occasions when people – especially widows – are targeted for their land and property.

Just as we so often call an animal dangerous, when we are a greater threat to them than they are to us, it is clear that in this village, wickedness was less a characteristic of the witches than of the accusers.

And so, in a bit of role reversal, a bit of MacBeth:

First villager:
Thrice the local clerics call’d

Second villager:
Thrice and once the mad mob thronged

Third villager:
Cameras on! ‘Tis time, ‘tis time.

First Villager:
Round about the village go
Take the five and drive them so.
Rend their clothes and strip them bare
Beat them in the village square
Know the bible must forgive:
“Suffer not a witch to live.”

All:
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Second villager:
Muslim widows, old or rich,
Labeled by the clerics: “Witch!”
Helpless women, now we see,
Targeted for property.
Hundreds watch, and some join in
To stone a witch, it is no sin—
Treat them to a sacrament
Of filthy human excrement.

All:
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Third villager:
Stunted morals, blunted hearts,
Faith, its tyranny imparts,
Son and daughter, father, mother,
Join as one to fight The Other,
Holy scripture, clerics’ will,
Economic needs fulfill.
Superstition, prejudice,
Religion leads to things like this—
Mere accusation will suffice;
Five women, now, serve sacrifice.
The village now will cast their blame
And thus preserve their own good name.

All:
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Second Villager:
Cool it while the cameras roll;
When they leave we’ll take our toll.

Video, for those who wish.

Oh, the really sad thing? From the BBC website:

Share/Bookmarka2a_linkname=document.title;a2a_linkurl=”http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2009/10/which-is-witch.html”;

1 comment

  1. 1
    Johnny Vector

    Spectacular, even by your usual standards! I am standing and applauding.

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