It is estimated that up to 750 people, mainly old women, have been killed in witch-hunts in India since 2003.
The slayings result when villages in the hinterland suffer from food shortages and blame is cast. In one instance a family of four in Assam were stoned and then buried alive after it was believed they had cursed the relative of the village elder.
It is hoped that by introducing witchcraft studies to the school syllabus that rural beliefs can be altered. India hopes to dampen belief in black magic.
However, academics claim that the witch-hunt phenomenon is purely financial. A proposed alternative solution is to introduce a pension for elderly ladies. This would mean that these women become a financial asset rather than a financial burden.
The pension tactic is widely credited to have been successful in South Africa where witch-hunting almost completely stopped in the North Province in the 1990s.
In Pure Spirit
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