Sanctioned violence: development and the persecution of women as witches in South Bihar

Victimising women as witches is prevalent in the tribal regions of South Bihar. As a result, between 1991 and 1994, over 60 women are known to have been killed in West Singhbhum district alone. The main reasons behind this persecution are to maintain women in economic and social subjugation, to exploit them sexually, and to wrest property from their families. This article examines the issues behind this form of socially sanctioned violence, analyses their implications on development work, and suggests appropriate methods of intervention. This article is freely available as a chapter in Development with Women.