Witch Hunting: A Form of violence against Dalit Women in India

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Tanvi Yadav


The Caste system is a social reality in India; despite constitutional rights of equality, protection from discrimination, and the ban on untouchability, discrimination against Dalit communities or Schedule Castes, still persists. Outside and within their caste, Dalit women face triple discrimination based on caste, class and-gender resulting in horrific acts of violence directed against them. Among the most common violent attacks on them across rural India, apart from sexual violence, are those related to declaring them witches, or accusing them of witchcraft, often leading to tragic outcomes such as death of victims. Grabbing property, political jealousy, personal conflicts, getting sexual benefits, or settling old scores are found to be common reasons to declare a woman witch. However, deep down, it is a conspiracy of Brahmanical patriarchy to control resources and sustain caste hierarchy by hitting where it hurts the most – inflicting injuries on Dalit women. They face physical, economic, and cultural violence from social exclusion to being burnt alive. Most witch-hunting victims have been noticed as either, old, widows, or single, women. This paper analyses violence against Dalit women with specific reference to witch- hunting. It explores the caste hierarchy, motives behind such crimes, also the failure of legal mechanisms and judicial institutions in eradicating the menace of witch-hunting.

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Yadav, T. (2020). Witch Hunting: A Form of violence against Dalit Women in India. CASTE A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 1(2), 169–182. https://doi.org/10.26812/caste.v1i2.203
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