Chinese "Witch Doctors" Arrested After Woman Steamed to Death

On February 27, residents of the village of Guangyuan in China's Sichuan province went to investigate on hearing the sound of someone screaming.   They were shocked to discover that the screams were coming from a woman who had been sealed in a barrel which was being heated by a vat of boiling water underneath.   The unnamed woman was a local resident who had suffered from pain problems for many years and her neighbours had often heard her crying out in pain.   When they tried to intervene, the neighbours were told by  two "witch doctors" that the woman was undergoing an exorcism and that the screams were coming from the devil inside her, not the woman herself.    The witch doctors had been hired by the woman's family to heal her and they had recommended this extreme form of exorcism. 

Ignoring the witch doctors, the neighbours managed to open the barrel and free the woman.   Her condition after being released was horrifying since her face had turned black and she was unable to stand.   Some of the responders went for medical help while others took her insider her house.   Unfortunately, the woman soon died despite medical attention and the witch doctors were later charged as a result.

Belief in exorcism remains strong in many parts of China, particularly the rural areas.   Traditional healers are often called in to help with chronic illness and they can recommend exorcism as a way of casting out the devils believed to be calling the illness.   While fatalities are relatively uncommon, exorcism rituals can take many bizarre forms as demand for exorcist services increase.

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