I belong to that group of individuals who believe that banning something only serves to push it underground and make it more desirable.
So it is with this in mind that I’m a little disturbed by an article in the Mail & Guardian about the banning of witchcraft and exploitation emanating from superstitious beliefs, by a political lobby group in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
Chanting to cure snakebites, claiming to be a reincarnated spouse to obtain sex, and charging for miracles could soon be banned by an Indian state seeking to stop charlatans preying on the vulnerable.
Many superstitions are widely held in India but a campaign group is lobbying hard for a new law in the western state of Maharashtra to outlaw several exploitative activities, with penalties of fines or up to seven years in jail. [more here]
According to the article, religious groups are already arguing that the banning is an attack on their religious freedoms. They will undoubtedly find support in the large Hindu population who thrive on superstition and archaic religious belief. The banning will ultimately only give their primitive needs added impetus when it becomes taboo.
While the proponents of the legislation known as Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, mean well, they could in fact be causing more harm.
It’s not a pleasant situation to be in, and is a damning indictment on mankind which is still prone to being deceived by religious charlatans, mostly through their own ignorance.
The rest of us are damned if we do something about it and damned if we don’t.