Witches are able to use supernatural means to influence the physical realm, and the practice of witchcraft is considered to be evil and undertaken with the intention of hurting people or gaining power. The fear of witches and their spells is still as widespread as ancient times and people who have being accused of witchcraft are actively persecuted by those that are afraid of them. The number of witch trials being performed is increasing and ‘witch hunters’ have started taking justice into their own hands, in many countries around the world.
In India, there are women, mainly widows, who own a significant amount of land. As a result of this wealth, they are accused of being witches and their neighbours put together a pile of logs in front of their house to burn them. This scares the women into staying inside and their accusers take control of their land while they have isolated themselves.
Papua New Guinea
These citizens are still using traditional methods of getting rid of modern day witches, because of their overwhelming fear of them. In January 2009, a young girl was accused of being a witch and affecting men with Aids in this way. Her punishment was to be burnt alive. About a month later a father and son were also accused of practicing witchcraft together and burned.
As a result of the prevalence of HIV and Aids in Zambian society, and the ignorance about how it is spread, many people believe that it must be through witchcraft. Self-proclaimed witch hunters, are trying to eradicate the country of this evil by killing those that they have labelled as witches with poisonous teas.
The fear of witchcraft is not limited to the public in other countries, however, and the Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, believes that he is being targeted by witches. As a result, he has had more than 1000 of the country’s citizens arrested and tortured on suspicion, with several of them consequently dying.
Republic of Benin
This government has used witchcraft as the reason for the country’s economic imbalance, claiming that this is why some people are thriving and others are not. There is an old legend that labels babies that are born feet first are witches, and the cause of poor agriculture and disease. Many of them are being killed or abandoned as a result.
In 21st century London there are still incidents of people being accused of being witches. In 2005, an 8 year old girl was said to be a witch by her family members. They took matters into their own hands by abusing her and rubbing chili peppers in her eyes, in order to remove the influence that the devil had over her. She was removed from her home by the authorities, and three of her family members arrested and charged.
Not all people who claim they are witches are being persecuted, thankfully, and nave even been welcomed and accepted into our society. More than likely they are also a considerable number living among us that the rest of us know nothing about.