‘Residents nearby believe I am a witch’, says Odisha woman born with 20 toes, 12 fingers

Ganjam (Odisha): Giving in to society's disapproval for anything out of the ordinary, a woman in Odisha's Ganjam has confined herself to the four walls of her house simply for being born with 20 toes and 12 fingers.

The 63-year-old woman, Nayak Kumari, lives in Kadapada village of Ganjam district here. Kumari says that her neighbours believe her to be a witch but there is nothing she can do to change her appearance as she lacks the money to do so. "I was born with this defect and could not be treated because I belong to a poor family. The superstitious residents nearby believe I am a witch and keep away from me," the woman said.

Kumari said that she stays indoors most of the time to keep away from prying eyes. A neighbour sympathetic to the woman's condition, said: "This is a small village and people here are superstitious and so treat her like a witch. She has a medical condition and cannot do anything about it. She cannot even afford the treatment." According to surgical specialist Dr Pinaki Mohanty, while having one or two extra fingers is not uncommon, having 20 toes and 12 fingers is very rare.

"This is a case of Polydactyly, in which extra fingers are there from birth. This is caused by a mutation in genes. Polydactyly is not that uncommon, around one or two people in every five thousand have extra fingers. However, someone having 20 toes and 12 fingers is very rare," he said. Mohanty also said that apart from the medical perspective, there is social stigma around the medical condition due to which a lot of patients get neglected.

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