REDUNDANT LAWS AND OCCULT PRACTICES OF INDIAN RURAL SOCIETY
In the era of modernization, globalization and women empowerment still a large part of our society lags behind having superstitious irrational beliefs. On the one hand, we Indians are shifting as the fastest economic power in the world along with setting higher records and tough results whether in sports, academics and many other fields at the world forum. But there also prevails a harsh reality, a darker side of our society where women and low caste people are ill-treated, humiliated on the pretext of irrational beliefs.
Recently, Karnataka cabinet approved the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017- better known as Anti-superstition Bill. This was to protect people against evil and sinister practices and to combat and eradicate inhuman, evil and sinister practices such propagated/performed in the name of the “supernatural” or black magic[i]. Similarly, Rajasthan had enacted Rajasthan’s Prevention of Witch Hunting Act, 2015. But do such legislation have become operative in actual sense and does any action being taken against offender under such Acts? According to a report of Baal Evum Mahila Chetna Samiti, an NGO held that Rajasthan is the fifth state to enact the legislation on witch hunting but not a single case among the 86 registered so far since 2015 has resulted in a conviction. In almost all cases women were labeled as witches were Dalits, poor and widows. There are practices where women are paraded naked, pelted stones in the name of sorcery, coercing a person to perform fire-walk at religious festivals, piercing face with rods, sexual exploitation by invoking supernatural powers etc. Two recent cases of this year in which women were tortured to death were a 40-year-old Dalit woman was branded a witch, stripped, beaten up mercilessly and made to eat feces in Kadera village of Ajmer on August 2. Second, a 70-year-old woman in Semari block of Udaipur district was beaten to death on September 23[ii]. In Jharkhand, also in the similar case was reported where a woman was paraded naked in the whole village, humiliated and killed before the eyes of her children and husband on the false notion of being a witch.
What a society we are living in, which evolved from a rural background where such barbaric acts often justified on the basis of morality in the namesake of sacrifice to God. Women are deprived of their dignity and treated harshly more than an animal, as an object of ill-treatment. Laws have been framed but as a mere showpiece of the society. In case if complaints are registered delayed functioning in the system obstructs the way for justice. Often the policemen are mere spectators comes into action after the victim is dead, or notorious to use such victimized woman satisfy their immoral acts in rural areas. Stringent actions must be taken against people who practice such beliefs harming others. Few NGOs and commissions came up fighting for such cause but the complete solution is not just justice for the victim by punishing the offender but a complete solution is that such acts should not at all occur. Education is the tool for setting up a rational mind to persons with such mindsets and there should be no place for such superstitious beliefs in the society.
[i] Karnataka Cabinet approves Bill against superstition (September 28, 2017) THE HINDU
[ii] Branded witches, and dragged to hell (October 1, 2017) THE HINDU
Author: Prateek Rai
College: Banaras Hindu University
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