Witch-Hunt Accusations and Violence against Women among Misings of Assam, India

Witchcraft and witch-hunt cases are frequently reported in the news media from Assam, India. Most often, women are the victims of witch-hunts in this region. They identify a witch based on suspicion without any evidence of harm being done. Upon identification as a witch by a mibo (a ritual specialist), they are subjected to severe punishments such as physical abuse, humiliation, social boycott, and even death. In several cases, the witch-hunt victims go through severe psychological trauma from which they could never recover. There is no social support mechanism as the community disowns them. In this context, the present study inquires into the belief system of the Mising society of Assam and the role of witchcraft. It further explores the accusations causing the witch-hunt and the implications on the witch-hunt survivors from a feminist perspective. In doing so, the paper analyses the power struggle in the Mising community and its operation in stigmatising women and making them the victims of violence.