Woman Suspected of Being a Witch Shot With Arrows and Burned Alive


A 45-year-old indigenous woman in Paraguay, who was suspected of practicing witchcraft, was tied to a pole, shot with arrows, beaten brutally and then burned alive by members of her own tribe. Seven men and a teenager have been arrested for the death of Adolfina Ocampos, whose body was first submerged under water and then brutally abused. Police officials retrieved chars of her burnt body from a nearby campfire.

One of the men arrested told police officials that his sister had gotten sick a year ago and remained in poor health, a situation he blamed the late Ocampos for, alleging she was practicing witchcraft. A while ago, Ocampos had been found guilty of this crime and thus banished from her native village of  Tahehyi. She was sent away to Paraguay’s capital, Asuncion, but when the situation did not improve, the villagers decided to kill her. The leader of the Mbya Guarani tribe, who sentenced Ocampos to death, also went on to say he was not sorry for his decision or actions. The arrested have been charged with first-degree murder.

The research group National Indigenous Institute helped police officials carry out the investigation after Ocampos’ death. According to them, a 14-year-old girl had also been tortured after being suspected by villagers of practicing witchcraft. Reportedly, she is receiving help from the state so she can recuperate as soon as possible.

This recent incident echoes worrying statistics that have been released by United Nations Refugee Agency. Their estimates suggest thousands of women are accused of witchcraft and sorcery around the world each year. In most cases, these women experience horrible events, which start with being ostracized by family and community and end with brutal murders. Often, in countries where such practices are commonplace, there is a conflict between ancient rituals and legal proceedings.

An official statement from the Paraguayan government agency responsible for the protection of indigenous people read, “Although the indigenous communities are ruled by customary law, their acts cannot violate the constitutional rights of respecting the life and the liberty of people.”

Catholic priest and anthropologist Jose Zanardini, however, pointed out that such cases of witchcraft and sorcery are almost unheard of in a place like Paraguay.

“I've been working in Paraguay for 40 years and I can't remember a similar episode of an execution for alleged sorcery. … The tragic death of this woman is isolated and out of the ordinary within the coexistence of Paraguay's 20 ethnic indigenous groups. In general, the Indians are very peaceful and tolerant,” he said.

Photo Credits: Latin Times

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