The National Commission for Women (NCW) proposes to have a national consultation to prepare a draft bill to be submitted to the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to curb violence against women who practice black magic in the country.
NCW member Charu Wali Khanna said: “We cannot accept the violence that women are often subjected to in the name of curbing black magic. Though the Commission was looking into the issue in a gender neutral manner, we realised that because of the larger number of women who are targeted we should first look at the women who are practically hunted down for practising black magic.”
The Commission had earlier proposed a Central law against witch-hunts and violence against women for ‘limiting black magic’.
“With the sharp rise in incidence of violence against women, especially those who are single, widowed and those from the lower castes, there is an urgent need to ensure that stringent rules are brought in to protect them. We have also found that these crimes are committed/instigated mostly by unemployed youth who are easily influenced and are able to sway public opinion in villages,” Ms. Khanna said.
The cases of torture of women in the name of curbing black magic are most rampant in States including Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 768 women have been murdered for practising witchcraft since 2008.
‘Assertion of power’
“Violence against women in the name of curbing black magic is often related to issues such as property dispute or to an assertion of power. There is a need to have a national law on curbing this menace, though many argue that India has enough laws but we lack in implementation,” added Ms. Khanna.
Interestingly, the Commission has noted that this violence is not restricted only to women but men too are targeted.
“We recently had a case where a man was subjected to torture because the villagers believed that he was practising witchcraft. We feel that the violence is more about money, land and caste-related which is another aspect that the Commission proposes to look into,” noted a senior NCW member.