Witch Hunters- Violence Against Women

November 1, 2021

In the Kisii community in Kenya, the male dominance is such that women rarely rise to elective posts. It is in the same community that elderly women are doused in petrol, necklaced with tires and lynched to death. It is hard for someone outside this community to understand why such barbaric acts are regularly cheered on.

A witch in this community can hold a special place; it is claimed they have magical powers. It is alleged that a witch can influence a student’s performance in school. They are claimed to determine how a harvest will go, control the weather patterns, and even control how much milk a cow will produce.

In a community that believes in witchcraft and superstition, unfortunately old women are usually the casualties. The belief in this community is that nothing happens without a reason. Members of this community do not believe in natural calamities, and whenever a death occurs, they always look for someone to blame. It is irrelevant, for example, if the person that died had been ill for a very long time.

The elderly are an endangered species in Kisii and in the coastal region of Kenya. Some of the culprits are even family members who stand to benefit from inheritance of land left behind when the elderly are killed.

Nearly all cultures in the world believe in the existence of some form of witchcraft. Similarly, all religions also believe in good and evil. Evil being the devil who somehow performs or enables a follower to practice witchcraft.

Growing old in this community spells doom. The elderly are targeted whenever death occurs or a calamity takes place in the village. As a result, there are areas within the community where the elderly are extremely small in number as so many have been killed by irate villagers. Sadly, the police are usually late to get to the rescue of the elderly people; by the time they arrive at the scene, the victims are generally dead. Just recently, a crowd dragged old women out of their houses, set their houses ablaze, and then beat the women to death. Armed youth often go around searching the villages; if elderly  women are found in their houses, they are usually targeted. The hunters do not give the women a chance to defend themselves; instead, the irate youth determine their fate.

Clearly, not everyone with grey hair is a witch or a wizard, and the youth must be stopped from carrying out these heinous crimes. Unfortunately, these crimes are targeted at women and not men. The women are killed mercilessly. The sad thing is that those carrying out these crimes are often educated individuals who should know better. The killers believe the alleged witches have powers that enable them to run the whole night. They believe the ‘witches’ kidnap people and kill them for rituals. Anything unfortunate that happens in these villages is thought to occur at the hands of ‘the witches.’ Torturing and killing the elderly, is a barbaric and savage method of settling scores.

Many women have been killed because there was a feud in the community. The offended party simply has to accuse the other of being a witch, and the witch hunt begins. Once accused of being a witch, the outcome is always tragic. Many younger people who work in this town, take their elderly parents, especially their mothers, to the city to keep them safe. There are parts of this village void of older women as most have been killed or taken away by their kin for safety.

Houses of suspected witches torched by irate neighbors

The elderly women live in fear for their lives.
It is a crime to grow old in this community.

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