Human sacrifice

Other Names:
Ritual murder
Ritual killings
Ritual dismemberment

The murder of human beings as part of a religious ritual has been most widely adopted by agricultural rather than hunting or pastoral peoples. Sacrifice would be made to encourage soil fertility or as a form of ancestor worship. Victims include kings, slaves, criminals and children. Human sacrifice may take a more insidious form in civilized societies when necessary changes encounter political and other forms of resistance until one or more lives have been sacrificed.


Human sacrifice is still believed to exist among certain tribes in Africa. In its more insidious form in civilized societies, the introduction of much new legislation affecting the condition of people can only be formulated, and only acquires credibility, after lives have been sacrificed. Examples include legislation affecting health and safety. In 1993 a group of anti-dam activists in India threatened to commit mass suicide if the project was not reviewed.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 15: Life on Land
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST