Jharkhand government, in a first, is all set to launch a project to check harassment of women accused of witchcraft. The project aims to ensure a dignified life to such women.
Under the scheme, women accused of witchcraft and tortured will be identified and provided with help to make them financially independent. As many as 1,149 such women have been identified as of now. They will also be made aware of the legal remedies available to them.
According to officials in the Rural Development Department, a security team will also be formed in each village under this project. The team will be responsible for ensuring that no woman is harassed and tortured in the name of witchcraft.
Project to be launched on a pilot basis
The project will initially be launched on a pilot basis in 2,668 villages. It will then gradually be extended to all 32,000 villages across the state.
“Being a very sensitive issue, awareness among the society is one of the major focuses of this programme, along with counseling and ensuring a dignified living to the affected women, economically as well as socially,” The New Indian Express quoted Rural Development Secretary Aradhana Patnaik as saying.
Witch-hunting in Jharkhand
Murdering women in the name of witchcraft is common in Jharkhand, and in the year 2019, as per data provided by the state police, 27 deaths related to allegations of witchcraft were reported by the state. This was a staggering rise from 18 such deaths reported in 2018, according to recently-released National Crime Records Bureau data.
Data showed that Jharkhand leads the country in cases of witch-hunting, where women are branded as “witches” and then punished fatally with violence. 173 people have been killed in Jharkhand after being labelled as witches since 2014.
NCRB data reported that 19 of the 73 people ‒ 26% ‒ killed across India on suspicion of practicing witchcraft in 2017 were in Jharkhand,