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article imageNepalese woman burned alive as a 'witch'

By Arthur Weinreb     Feb 19, 2012 in World
Kathmandu - After the earlier death of a boy, a 40-year-old woman was accused of practicing witchcraft, beaten, and burned alive by a mob of villagers.
The incident took place on Friday in a small village located about 50 miles from Nepal's capital, Kathmandu. As reported by CNN, Dhegani Mahato had just finished cleaning a shed when a group of 10 people appeared. The woman was beaten with stones and sticks. Gopal Bhandari, a police superintendent in Chitwan district was quoted by 9 News as saying, They poured kerosene and threw straw over her and then set fire to her. No one came to her rescue. By the time we heard about it, she had already died.
The death was witnessed by the victim's nine-year-old daughter.
The mob sought the woman out after a shaman told others Mahato was a witch and was responsible for the death of a boy who drowned in a river about a year ago.
Police say after they showed up in the village there was a standoff with locals who did not want them to take Mahato's body away for a post-mortem examination.
Baburam Bhattari, Nepal's prime minister, has warned people not to pay attention to shamans and faith healers. The government also announced that 1 million rupees (US$14,000) will be paid to Mahato's two children as compensation for their mother's death.
According to the international non-governmental organization, CARE in Nepal, belief in witchcraft is widespread in the country, especially in rural areas. When something bad befalls a community, like the boy who drowned in the river, illiterate, single, or elderly women are sometimes singled out for responsibility and accused of being witches.
While not usually killed, these women are often beaten, psychologically abused, and tortured. Their families shun them, forcing them and their children to live on the streets where they become targets of rape and other crimes.
As reported in the U.K. Daily Telegraph, human rights organizations report the 'witch hunters' are usually not prosecuted.
The mob of 10, including two shamans and an eight-year-old boy, have been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Hira Muni Baral, a police officer, was quoted by CNN as saying, Those arrested have confessed to their crime and will be charged with murder.
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