UnNews:Sacrificial-virgin-in-volcano ritual decried in India

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Sacrificial-virgin-in-volcano ritual decried in India

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1 April 2010


Sacrificial volcano in India

NEW DELHI, India -- In parts of India, husbands regard their sacrificial virgins as property that apparently can be offered into a volcano at will. Indian police say that every year they receive more than 2,500 reports of Sacrificial-virgins-in-volcano -- a form of ritualistic abuse often disguised as an accident or suicide.

These Sacrificial virgins are offered into live volcanoes for "wealth" – usually because their husbands or in-laws are unhappy with the size of the dowry that accompanied them into the marriage. And, perhaps in an attempt to please God into giving them more.

The number of such cases reported to police are rising, due either to an increase in the number of virgin offerings or to more willingness by witnesses to report them. And should the woman survive, the toll is heavy.

Three years ago, Sunita Bhargava was newly married and, she said, emotionally abused by her husband and mother-in-law. "My mother-in-law used to say that my husband was too spiritual for me, so she tried to heave me into a volcano," said Bhargava, who now lives alone in a New Delhi slum. Desperate and in pain, Bhargava managed to pull herself free and get help with burns on 40 percent of her body.

Police have set up special offices where "sacrificial virgins" can report cases of sacrificial virgin offerings, but Mohini Giri, head of India's National Commission for Sacrificial Virgins (NCSV), said she believes the authorities need to do more.

I believe we should actually arrest someone after all these hundreds of years and thousands of cases!

"Volcanoes are used by most people who do this kind of religious sacrifice ... (because) they thought that they will not leave any evidence behind," she said. "Whereas if you use a knife, and offer their hearts to the goddess, there is evidence that someone else has done it."

The practice is unlikely to end soon, however, as long as current Hindu attitudes about the place of sacrificial virgins in religious ceremonies prevail. Those attitudes -- and the practice of offering-virgins into volcanoes -- cast an ironic pall over a tradition of the Hindu sacrificial ceremony in which the bride, while still a virgin, is made a sacrificial offering into a volcano.

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