‘Witch’ accused tortured, fears filing complaint

- Pratichya Dulal, Kathmandu
A single mother from Dada Gaun in Salyan is tied to a post and tortured for hours on witchcraft charge by her relatives

Sep 27, 2016-On September 4, as most women in Dada Gaun of Salyan district were celebrating Teej festival, one particular woman was suffering a horrific incident. Bound to a post, Sabitri Chand (name changed) was being tortured by her aunt-in-law and cousins-in-law. 

Her tormentors had accused her of being a witch and hexing their family.

The 26-year-old single mother was finally rescued by police and taken to a local hospital. 

Sabitri wants to press charges against her aunt-in-law and cousins-in-law, but she also fears that the other family members might harass her, or worse, harm her five-year-old daughter.   

“I want the assurance that my daughter and I are not harmed in the future,” demanded Sabitri, who had come to Kathmandu, seeking security and justice. 

Sabitri, who runs a small tea shop in her village, is also a former women rights activist of her village. 

The fact that she, a former women rights activist, is having a second thought about filing a legal complaint against the persons who tortured her speaks 

volumes about the situation of those women who are victims of witchcraft allegations and domestic violence, say women rights defenders. 

Uma Thapa, of Women for Human Rights-Single Women Group, said: “In Sabitri’s case, we can see how even a women rights champion can found herself in victim’s position of a crime usually committed against women and  how fear is keeping her from bringing the perpetrators to justice.” 

Although getting legal help in cases of domestic violence and witchcraft-related crimes is much easier these days, many incidents often go 

unreported because either the cases are settled outside the court, the victims feel they will not be safe if they go public, or they fear being shamed in the community. 

There is no protection programme for victims of witchcraft-related crimes and domestic violence. Besides, awareness campaigns against superstitious beliefs and domestic violence are also largely lacking.

Published: 27-09-2016 08:55

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