More cases of torturing women accused of practicing witchcraft in Nepal: police

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-5-5 9:55:54

The number of Nepali women being assaulted or tortured for allegedly practicing witchcraft is rising every year, Nepal Police data revealed on Saturday.

A superstition is widespread in Nepal that women involved in witchcraft possess supernatural powers that can make people and animal sick or even claim their lives.

Windows, elderly and poor women without the support of family members and those from so called lower classes tend to be accused of practicing witchcraft.

"According to our data, in the last four years 116 women were tortured across the country," Nepal Police Spokesperson DIG Keshav Adhaikari told Xinhua.

Women accused of performing witchcraft have been subjected to beating, forced to strip naked and feed excrement, among others.

Since last July, 27 cases have been reported across the country, an indication that the phenomenon is increasing.

The police spokesperson said a lack of awareness is the main reason for the increasing cases and police is talking various steps to prevent such cases.

Victims seldom file a case to the local police fearing that family and community would abandon them.

On May 1, 2013, Chameli Chaudhary, a woman in Bhairahawa, a city 282 km west of Kathmandu, was abused and beaten for allegedly practicing witchcraft.

She lodged a complaint with police saying that he relatives tried to put fire on her mouth while she was in a marriage ceremony, a local English Daily the Kathmandu Post reported on Thursday.

Right activists noted there is no specific law regarding the punishment for the people involved in torturing women in the name of witchcraft.

Two years ago, National Women Commission, a constitutional body formed to safeguard women's right, forwarded a draft bill on offense and punishment for witchcraft but there has not been any initiation from government to make it a law.

The clause 10 of Muluki Ain (General Code) has a provision that people involved in such cases would be sentenced to jail terms of up to two years.

In Nepal, superstition and caste-based discrimination is rife. Torturing women accused of practicing witchcraft are rampant not only in rural areas but also in the cities.

Some people believed that a lack of action against those persecuting women accused as witches has caused such cases to rise, but police spokesperson Adhikari said they are punishing those involve in torturing women.

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