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Plight of women in India- Witch branding

Even after so many years of independence, women in India continue to suffer socially as well as economically at different levels and in different forms.Oneof the most horrific violence against women is branding them as witch. Scores of women are regularly killed on charges of witchcraft across the county. This largely happens in states like Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal annually. Women mostly widows are beaten, often paraded in the village and sometimes forced to eat excrete.

According to a recent report by NGO -Association for Social and Human Activities, between 2001 and 2008,452 women were killed in Jharkhand. Jharkhand’s economic backwardness and a low literacy rate of 53.6% and 38.9% for women have led to prevalence of superstition, illiteracy and violence against women. Even the death of an animal becomes a source for condemning some poor woman as a witch or dayan.Often it is an excuse to grab property or settle scores with someone.

Though Jharkhand has witchcraft prevention Act under which the maximum punishment is a one year imprisonment, its implementation is still awaited. Lack of access to justice is cited as one of the main reasons for not availing it .The other reasons being distance and attitude of people.

The Govt of India has decided to introduce law against witch-hunting with stricter penalties but it is equally important to spread awareness among the people.

Source: The Times of India

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