Witch-hunting is still performed nowadays all throughout the world. While witch-hunting is ubiquitous around the world, the current hotspots of witch-hunting include India, Papua New Guinea, Amazonia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
In India, witch-hunting is popular among tribal people in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. They believe that having an iron rod inside one's body is a sign of wealth, which can be taken out only by a priest during a ritual. The iron rods are usually obtained when someone steals them from a nearby factory. These stolen rods are then sold by the thief who gets away with it unscathed.
In Papua New Guinea, metal objects such as knives, forks, and spoons are used to seek revenge for real or perceived insults to your identity. If any of these objects are found buried under the skin of another person, they are taken as evidence of witchcraft. Those accused of being witches are often tortured to force them to admit their guilt.
In Amazonia, women use razor blades, pins, and needles to punish those who have offended them. If anything happens to the person who was punished - if they die, for example - his or her family blames the victim's relatives for their death. This form of punishment is often carried out on individuals but can also be done to entire families.
Witch trials are now held all throughout the world. Organizations such as the United Nations and Stepping Stones Nigeria have discovered an increase in the frequency of witch trials throughout the world. They are virtually usually violent and, at times, lethal. 21st of June, 2011 was declared "International Day of Remembrance of All Who Have Been Executed for Being Witches".
In many parts of Africa, Asia, and South America, people still believe that some men become witches when they die and need to be stopped before they can harm others. In these countries, witch hunters often don't know what drugs they are taking so they may kill innocent people. In other words, a lot of violence is done in the name of preventing witchcraft.
In Europe, North America, and Australia, people believe that witches can only do bad things on Sabbaths or during certain months of the year. They think that women who walk alone at night, use magic, or hang out with too many men aren't friendly and should be punished.
The main difference between old-fashioned witch hunts and modern ones is that today's hunters look for different types of witchcraft instead of just male witches. They search for psychic vampires, mediums, spellcasters, psychics, etc. Modern-day witch hunts often involve accusations by online communities against strangers they don't know anything about. These accusations can and sometimes do lead to suicides.
Thousands of people were killed in Europe for being "witches" for over 300 years. However, witch hunts continue to occur today, according to historian Wolfgang Behringer. In his book A History of Witchcraft, he reports that between 1560 and 1780, thousands of people were executed for witchcraft across Europe.
Witch hunts have occurred throughout history. But they became more common after 1645, when the European Witchcraft Crisis caused populations to turn on their leaders for not stopping the murders. Beginning with France and then spreading to the rest of Europe, hundreds of people were executed for witchcraft.
Today's witches are usually not killed, but rather imprisoned or tortured until they confess to being witches. The judges who sent them to prison or trial often took part in their punishment by mutilating or burning them at the stake.
The belief in witchcraft and the murder of witches is widespread among humans. Even though most witches are not killed, many countries have laws against it. Japan had a law against killing people because of their beliefs, but it was repealed in 1872.
In England, Scotland, and Wales, witchcraft remains illegal, but prosecutors must now show that a person was likely to have committed suicide to be declared dead without burial.
Poverty, diseases, societal upheavals, and a lack of knowledge are all reasons of witch-hunts. The leader of the witch-hunt, who is frequently a prominent member of the community or a "witch doctor," may also profit financially by charging for exorcisms or selling body parts of the killed.
How did society react to these witch hunts? In some cases, they resulted in a complete breakdown of social order, with people fleeing into isolated communities under threat from both wild animals and fellow humans. In other cases, such as in Europe, they were simply part of traditional religious practices that had little effect on overall society.
In the first half of the 17th century, witch trials were most common in England. During the English civil war of the 1640s and the Puritan era of the 1650s, they were at their most intense. This was a time of vigorous witch hunts, made famous by witch hunters like Matthew Hopkins. In early modern England, being accused of witchcraft meant sure death under torture or by hanging.
Witch hunting was not limited to those judges who wanted revenue; many ordinary people joined in the persecution. They often took their accusations to local juries which would then try the defendant. If found guilty, the person was usually hanged, burned, or otherwise killed. However, some cases were resolved through private negotiations between the accuser and the accused. These settlements often involved payments that went directly to the magistrate who initiated the proceedings.
England's early modern witch hunts resulted in the execution of about 5,000 people. But they also led to confusion as to what exactly constituted a witch. Thus began the development of more precise definitions of witchcraft that have persisted into the present day.
According to historian Ronald Hutton, "witches" in early modern England were actually men and women who were convicted of practicing magic.
In order to be convicted of witchcraft you needed only one witness who could provide evidence of either performing certain magical acts or having knowledge of such acts being performed by the defendant.
In some countries, such as Germany and Switzerland, there are governmental organizations responsible for protecting individuals from violence based on their beliefs or practices. These groups are called "Witch Finder General's offices".
In other countries, such as the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, there are no such protections. Instead, the best way for someone to be protected from violence if they are accused of witchcraft is through legal proceedings. Judges will either find evidence that the person is guilty of witchcraft or not. If they do find evidence of guilt, then the person can be sentenced depending on how serious the accusation is. Sentences range from fines to death.
New theories about witches and witchcraft have emerged over time. For example, in 1647, Thomas Hobbes published Leviathan, a book about government power. In it he said that people sometimes blame animals for their own shortcomings by saying that these animals are "witches". This idea was previously described by John Webster in 1590 with his play The White Witch of Westchester. It has been suggested that this connection between humans and witches helped create the concept of racism against people of color within the United States.