Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Next lesson: Witchcraft

Schoolchildren in India will now be learning about witchcraft (and the superstitions and untruths about it) to try and prevent the murder of hundreds (mostly elderly grandmotherly types) of suspected witches.

In one the most horrific recent cases, a family of four of the Santhal tribe in Assam were stoned and buried alive for allegedly cursing a relative of the village chief. At least one attack in Assam culminated in the severed heads of two “witches” being taken as trophies and paraded in the streets.

The program is being instituted by people who believe that if attitudes and beliefs are changed then these women can be saved. That the way to change is to squelch a belief in black magic. If the community does not believe in black magic then the problem won't exist.

Sounds logical.

However, some academics feel that giving these women pensions would do a better job at getting rid of this problem. They point twards evidence that shows that more people are accused of witchcraft and killed for it in times of hardship.

Raymond Fisman, a professor at Columbia University, told a recent seminar: “In Meatu, there are veritable witch epidemics now and again – certainly any time there is a bad crop year. Witches are the scapegoat of first resort. He suggested that “witches” were killed to make resources stretch farther. “Who are you going to knock off? You want the person who is the greatest consumer of household resources relative to that which they produce . . . it turns out that it’s grandma.”

Thus, the quickest way to eradicate witch-hunts is to introduce pensions for elderly women – to transform grandma from an economic burden to a wealth generator.

Don't kill Grandma!! She's not a Witch, she's old.

Education seems to me to be a good option, but telling someone that something they've always believed is wrong doesn't always work. There are well educated Americans that would tell you that evil things happen because of "dark forces" at work,


Whispy Love said...

wow thats pretty insane, I believe that witch craft is indeed very real.

Unknown said...

Wow that's crazy. Glad I found your blog, you have some interesting things on here.