Witches and a Bohemian

by snowden1984

In western India, two years ago, a certain law was passed which defined witchcraft as “the use of supernatural power with evil intention”. That it was found necessary to legally ban this practice, implies that elected legislators believe in the existence of magic. In 2015.

The act also bans the hunting of witches. It states, “Whoever forces a woman, branding her as witch, to drink or eat any inedible substance or any obnoxious substance or parade her naked or with scanty cloths or with painted face or body or commits any similar acts which is derogatory to human dignity or displaces her from her house or other property shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years or with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees or with both.”

This is shocking because it suggests that the things outlawed by this sentence have taken place often enough to be so explicitly prohibited.

Even more unsettling is the question: what if the paraded-naked, force-fed, painted, evicted female is not, after all, a witch? Is the punishment different? What if a man is thus brutalized? Are the consequences milder? What if the woman is forced to eat an edible substance? Is that permissible?

The quoted sentence is dry and sterile, as must be expected in a piece of legislation. The phenomena it refers to, however, must be gory and full of the screams of a woman mishandled by an entire community.

Kafka would have been unemployed in India.



Hindi and English pdf version: http://www.lawsofindia.org/pdf/rajasthan/2015/2015Rajasthan14.pdf

English text: