NGO making efforts to convince Jharkhand villagers to abandon witchcraft

| Updated: Dec 14, 2016 14:15 IST

Ranchi (Jharkhand) [India], Dec.14 (ANI): A non-government organisation has been active in Jharkhand's Ranchi district to spread awareness against the archaic practice of witchcraft. Members of the Free Legal Aid Committee (FLAC) have been visiting the interiors of the state and interacting with largely illiterate villagers. They have been performing skits, holding seminars, besides visiting homes of the people to offer counsel. In most cases, innocent women are branded as witches and subjected to torture and are even killed. At times, the so-called witches are paraded naked publicly or socially boycotted. Ajay Kumar, an activist of FLAC, said the number of those killed is much higher than what is reported. "Lot of superstition is practised here. As you can see people in villages are 100 percent superstitious. Even literate people believe in witchcraft, as we have seen in villages. In a few villages where we went to perform skits, people made us run and we had to go to other village to save our lives. So the condition is very serious here," he said. The IPSOWA (IPS Officers Wife Association) working for the welfare of destitute women, has been educating village heads and others in order to eliminate the problem of witch hunt. Women are especially vulnerable to witchcraft because society's bias against the weaker sex which is reinforced by popular myths about witches. "As you can see in Jharkhand, witchcraft is spreading very quickly and everyday new people get victimised due to his. Such helpless women who cannot protect themselves, who cannot save their life, people are calling them witch and killing them today. This is due to lack of literacy and awareness, which is very important," said chairman of IPS Officers wife association (IPSOWA), Poonam Pandey. Analysts blame illiteracy for such cases of tortures against women in the state. The association has also started helpline for the women facing persecution. Poor development, lack of education or modern amenities in most of the villages have forced villagers to believe in superstitions, who have lived under the spell of "ojhas" or witch doctors for centuries. In 1999, the Centre passed The Prevention of Witch Practice Act proposed to imprisonment of six months and a fine of Rs. 2,000 rupees on the person found guilty of torturing innocent women. The law has been adopted by many states but has failed to act as a deterrent. (ANI)