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Witchcraft, witches, casting spells and India’s religious diversity

Approximately one billion adults in 95 countries surveyed believe in  “curses” and witches, capable of “casting curses or spells as a result of which someone experiences misfortunes”. In Russia, 56% of the population in Witchcraft is believed in, 60% in Latvia, and just over 16% in the United States. The survey did not include India, China and several other countries with large populations. In general, belief in witchcraft is stronger in countries with weaker institutions and cannot provide adequate social security for their citizens. The survey found that young people aged 18 to 27 are more likely to believe in witchcraft than others.

In Ghana, women are constantly accused of witchcraft and suffer terrible punishments because of it. In Papua New Guinea,  sorcery accusation-related violence (SARV),  public torture and murder of female suspects are also common. Dickson Tanda, SARV coordinator on behalf of the Catholic Church in Enga province, has helped save more than 600 women and children accused of witchcraft since 2015. According to him, witch hunts are becoming more frequent and barbaric, and attackers almost always go unpunished.

The country’s 110 million indigenous people in India are scattered across states and divided into hundreds of clans. They speak different languages and believe in different gods and legends, such as the Sarna Dharma system, based on ancient beliefs about nature. However, the government does not recognise their faith – the national religious affiliation system only accept Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism and Sikhism.

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