AHMEDABAD: Witches in the state have unique characteristics—they are usually widows, childless women and most importantly, all of them have land which can be grabbed.
The first day of the two-day national seminar organised by Working Group for Women and Land Ownership (WGWLO), Gujarat, witnessed discussion of numerous instances where women were labelled witches to strip them off their only life-support— land.
The particular continent involved doesn't seem to matter:
“In all the cases, the woman has land. The family in connivance with the local witchdoctor first says the woman has the capacity to unleash ills on the family by blaming any recent death or illness on the family on her. She is then boycotted by the society where even if her children are sick, they are not taken to the doctor. This is used as further proof that she casts evil on the people. Once she is refused refuge by the society, her share of land is silently transferred in the name of the father-in-law or brother-in-law,” said Nayak.
Similar strategy is used on a childless woman to grab the couple’s share of land. “Recently, Mangi Bhil and her husband were mercilessly beaten up by their family members who blamed the death of a child in the family on them. They said that Mangi was childless and had cast an evil eye on the child and led to her death. Both of them were chucked out of the village. They tried filing a police complaint but their family members exerted their influence. When we investigated the case, at the root of the witch phenomenon was the eight-acre land in the name of Mangi and her husband which the family wanted to grab,” said Nayak.
You know, as population continues to grow and arable land (coughwaterwarscough) becomes increasingly scarce, we can expect to see a lot more of this.