Through the past witches were burned by the stake as you very well know. This was done because of many reasons, because of William Shakesphere's play about witches riding brooms, cursing helpless victims..ect.
People believed magick was devil worship and no one should be in contact with someone that did that. Witches were demons and were servents to Satan himself. Through out the bible it was written "None should suffer a witch." which this was written in earlier years.
This burning by the stakes started in Europe and trailed across the globe. Here in America (in Salem) they did not do the burnings, they rather had trials and or killed them by hanging or shot. Saddly most of the people who were killed in the Salem raid for witches, were murly innocent. Witches may seem easy to get but they are not.
What the guards (authority) did, was get everyone to accuse anyone of being a witch, and anyone the authority thought was a witch was arrested and placed on trials. Hundreds of women died during the Salem Witch Hunt. Women were mostly suspected, this was because the myths that were spread was women.
Men were suspected as Socerers and or Wizards, but they were not really inforced upon men. Until the night that they found a male witch. They had him killed.