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Woman branded witch, tortured in Rajasthan

IANS  Jaipur, April 13, 2012
First Published: 20:55 IST(13/4/2012) | Last Updated: 21:03 IST(13/4/2012)

A 30-year-old woman was stripped and tied to an electricity pole after being branded as a witch and tortured with searing hot tongs placed on her body in Rajasthan’s Tonk district, police said Friday.

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The woman, who sustained serious burn injuries, approached a court which ordered the police to register a first information report (FIR) against six people Thursday. Police said the case was lodged Friday and investigations are on.

According to the police, the incident took place at Uniara village of Tonk district, some 120 km from Jaipur. “In her complaint to the police, the woman has alleged that she was on her way to fetch water from a hand pump in the village when six men, identified by her as Rupnarayan, Harinarayan, Chhotaki, Pappudi, Dhuli and Sukhdev, came there and started abusing her,” a police officer told IANS.

She alleged that she was dragged to the house of one of the accused and tied to an electricity pole in front of it. “She says she was stripped and then searing hot tongs were placed on her body,” said the officer.

The practice of branding women as witches and torturing them continues unabated in the remote rural areas of Rajasthan. The state women and child development department has proposed a stringent law against women being branded witches. According to the draft Rajasthan Women (Prevention and Protection from Atrocities) Bill, 2011, a crime would be considered to have been committed when any person or community intentionally or inadvertently abets, conspires, aids and instigates the identification of a woman as
a witch, leading to her mental and physical torture and humiliation.

The bill has proposed a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment and fine for those who grab the land of such women after forcing them to leave their house.

If a woman commits suicide after being termed a witch, the accused shall be given a prison sentence of not less than five years, which can be extended to 10 years, with a minimum fine of Rs.25,000. The fine can be enhanced to Rs.50,000, the draft bill says.


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