Friday, March 15, 2013

An American anthropologist was surprised to encounter reports of penis-snatching in an African village — but only because the "crime" is normally confined to more populated areas

Louisa Lombard recounts her visit to the village of Tiringoulou in the Central African Republic, where two villagers said that their genitals had been stolen. One, a tea vendor, was attacked by a stranger who only had to grab his hand. "The tea seller felt an electric tingling course through his body and immediately sensed that his penis had shrunk to a size smaller than that of a baby’s," writes Lombard, a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley. The second victim said that he lost his genitals "in the fray" as yells erupted from the crowd. According to Lombard, rebels who govern the tiny hamlet said that they later gunned down the alleged penis thief after he escaped from a holding cell. Lombard explains that the belief in "penis-snatching" — a form of witchcraft — is a manifestation of anxieties caused as villages grow into cities. So it's more commonly seen in larger population centers such as Nigeria, Lagos, or Cameroon.

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