Hot iron rods are still used to treat the sick in some villages of Rajasthan. Clinging to superstitions, residents of some villages in Jodhpur district would rather subject themselves to hot iron rod treatment at the hands of witch doctors instead of going to qualified doctors.
A two-month-old girl in Doli village was recently down with pneumonia. She was rushed to a 'phopa', as witch doctors are called who promptly branded her with hot iron rods.
Although the baby continues to suffer, villagers are still reluctant to take her to a hospital, a Jodhpur daily reported.
Most people of Doli, over 30 km from Jodhpur city, and nearby villages are all for the witch doctors' prescription. And shockingly, the same treatment is given to sick animals as well!
Bruise marks can be seen on the bodies of a majority of villagers.
The horrifying therapy is well known in villages like Jahwar, Lunawas, Khara and many more. Hot iron rods are used to rid patients of pneumonia, common cold or hernia.
Gayadram, the head villager of Lunawas Charana, explained why: "People don't have money for medical treatment. Besides, illiteracy compels them to follow old customs and practices."
Lack of medical facilities and the reluctance of medical officers to stay in small villages further strengthen the faith of villagers in such treatments, another villager said.
"The traditional treatment exists in many villages. We encourage people to get treated at hospitals. But lack of proper medical facilities is a big factor that forces people to turn to 'phopas'," said Surtaram Devasi of Doli village.
"It's all due to lack of education and proper awareness. We try to explain to the villagers that this cannot cure their disease, but they are shackled to customs," said a doctor at a Jodhpur hospital.