The practice of witch-branding and witch-hunts is horrific, yet it tragically continues to be part of our contemporary world. Many women and children, and some men continue to be branded, castigated, externed to a life of isolation, or even killed, without adequate protection from the state and society.
The present study “Witch-Hunting in Odisha: A compilation of case studies” prepared with the State Commission for Women, Government of Odisha, presents evidence of this practice and its associated mindsets and beliefs in the form of case studies from across seven districts of Odisha. The study has prioritised including the districts which has high prevalence of witch-branding. 83% of the total witch-hunting and witch-branding cases in Odisha are concentrated in Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Rayagada, Malkangiri, Keonjhar, Gajapati and Ganjam districts. Therefore, we have collected data from the above districts. Besides, we have collected case studies, stakeholders’ interviews and FGDs from some other districts like Nabarangpur, Baleswar, Nayagarh, Koraput, and Kandhamal which also have their share of witch-branding and witch-hunting cases. The chosen districts possess socio-ethnic diversity and have the highest number of registered cases of witch-hunting. Thus 102 case studies have been collected from 12 districts of Odisha.
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