In some rural villages in India, vulnerable women are scapegoated and prosecuted for being a dayaan, “witch.” The passing of a neighbor or a well running dry suffice as reasons to condemn the innocent women for bringing bad omens. Comparing these oppressive practices to the historical atrocities of the Salem Witchcraft Trials (1692-93), this series of paintings and a poem calls out the mass hysteria and superstition that continues to devalue, destroy, and end women’s lives.

“Salem Witchcraft Trials”

Mixed media on canvas

3.6 Ft (V) X 3 Ft (H)

“One for the master, One for the dame,
One for the little boy who lived down the lane.
One for those innocent executed anyway,
One for the Salem Witchcraft Trials
Up on Gallows Hill
One for the mass hysteria
That uprooted Jack and Jill.
One for those vile women questioning power,
One for the oppressors sitting mighty
When theocracy was starting to wither
By the hour.
One for India
To have kept a 17th century legacy alive!
One for the barbaric shield
They still use to claim women’s lives.
One for every woman tormented in the rural,
One for the innocent and lack of proof,
One for the woman still being accused.
One for the powerful continuing to decimate.
One for every ‘witch’ who will
Now live in memory lane.”
– Akshita Gandhi