In days of antiquity, human sacrifice was a commonplace, everyday affair. Across the world, civilizations systemically offered up people to their gods, usually in the hopes of staying in good favor with their deity of choice, ensuring healthy crops, fair weather, or the continued success of their rulers.
After European colonization throughout the world, human sacrifice gradually phased out, as it became generally viewed as barbaric. Moreover, as scientific studies revealed far more effective ways of maintaining crops and dealing with and predicting the weather, it was painfully clear that offering the blood of an innocent was pointless. Even animal sacrifice is not as widespread as it once was.
And yet, instances of modern human sacrifice appear in the news like a specter from our gorier past. Here are 20 such instances of human sacrificing happening now, in the 21st century. Collection Photo: Charlie Hamilton James for National Geographic