A life of stigma, isolated from
their society often from their family… it is a dark tunnel with a little
light who are branded as witches. The rites and rituals are essential to
becomes a true individual with self-realization, but when it was overweighed it
will became evil practices. India is a country with lot of diversities. The
culture of the societies differ from place to place and community to community. Most generalised
narratives tend to be anecdotal and stereotypical and frame witch-hunting as an
exceptional, evil and barbaric form of violence; the ?othering? of the context
and its superstitious beliefs from the otherwise ?rational? and ?ordered?
societies (Mehra &Agarwal 2016). 74.04% of Indian population are literate, but
our people blindly follows in superstitious beliefs and evil customs (Skaria,
Ajay.1997). The practices such as sati, child marriage, witch hunting etc. had
their strong impact on the society. Witches does not exist in any form and
anywhere but custom of witch hunting is prevalent in all over the world. The
cultural barricade and the practices which forced to believe Indian community
that there exist some super natural power in our community. In earlier time
when people suffered with any disease they always blame to the super power either
as the curse or the angry. When someone caught with smallpox the society claim
that it is curse of goddess. For each small incident they go behind the
supernatural power. It causes the evolution of local ojhas and traditional
witch hunters, they hold the supreme control or authority over the local or
backward community of society. These witch hunters claimed that they have power
to control the so called witches and they will bring prosperity by removing
these bad omens. 

The practice of ‘witch-hunting’ constitutes gender-based
discrimination as it affects women disproportionately. Witch-hunting is a gross
violation of human right violation against women under Part III of the
Constitution i.e. the Right to Equality under article 14, the prohibition of discrimination
on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth under article
15, the Right to Protection of life and personal liberty under article 21 which
includes the right to life with dignity and prohibition of torture. Right of
equality of opportunity in matters of public employment under article 16, the
abolition of untouchability under article 17 and the Protection of the
interests of minorities under article 29 of the Constitution. Witch-hunting
also violates norms of international human rights law including those in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights and Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women, which are binding upon India. Presently, section 323 of the
Indian Penal Code, 1860 is used to deal with most witch-hunt cases. The effect
of this is that the persistent harassment of a woman, violence, social
ostracism and deprivation of rights are prosecuted in the same way as a common
assault. In addition certain provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 have
been typically used to book offenders in cases relating to witch-hunting such
as section 382 ‘theft after preparation made for causing death, hurt or
restraint in order to commit theft, sections 339—48 ‘wrongful restraint and
confinement’, sections 320—22, ‘Causing grievous hurt’, sections 359—69,
‘Kidnapping and abduction’, sections 375—376, ‘Rape’, sections 499—501,
‘Defamation’ and section 302, ‘Murder’. The use of the aforesaid sections in
the absence of a stringent law to deal with the problem of witch-hunting has
resulted in an ad hoc, un-coordinated
and often insensitive approach to tackle the social evil of witch-hunting
(Lakhanpal 2016). There is a need to prevent, prohibit and prosecute witch-hunting
as a specific manifestation of ongoing discrimination and violence against
women across India. The co-ordinated and coherent approach of a national law
would, therefore, better redress the devastating impact that witch-hunting has
on the lives of targeted women across India. It would also better mobilize
civil society and law enforcement agencies to fulfil their obligations. 

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In many States including the States of Jharkhand,
Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh,
Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Assam, Bihar and Meghalaya
there are certain areas where the practice of witch-hunting is prevalent even
today. In some of these States, laws to tackle witch-hunting have been enacted.
However, these laws contain a range of different provisions at different level
and resulting in the pressing need for a coherent national legislation.
Rajasthan is the largest state in our country where the society is patriarchal.
The number of incidence of witch hunting is increasing in state according to
NCRB records. Religious anarchy has strong role in history of state, were
people suffered a lot on this. Large number of tribe population and lower socio
economic status of people plays a big role with life of people. State falls
behind the national average in rate of infant mortality rate, maternal
mortality rate, mal nutrition among children, anaemia among women, drop out
ratio, gender gap in literacy etc (Sen, Tapas .et.al.2009). Witch hunting is
widely practising in Rajasthan. Witch-hunting is the practice of naming an
individual particularly a woman a witch and then causing her harm to such an
extent layout imagination. Women are often singled out in the name of
witch-hunting by an individual or a group in the community or the community as
a whole for the purpose of holding such women responsible for causing ailment
or misfortune to the society. The victims of witch-hunts are usually Dalit,
Adivasi, or indigenous tribal women often living in poverty. Victims are also
usually but not always elderly widows, single women or unmarried women. The
practice of witch-hunting is most prevalent in rural areas of lower
socio-economic development where there is no access to education, medical care,
sanitation or legal services. This evil practice, therefore, affects those who
are already most vulnerable section in society and who already suffer from
multiple forms of disadvantage. The stigma of being labelled a witch and the
resulting harm being an additional burden that those already marginalized
individuals have to bear. Witch hunting is deeply blended with religious and
cultural ethos of society. If people beliefs in witches the witch hunting
continues. It hands with the superstitious beliefs and act as a weapon against
deprived people. It deepens the impact in society and forces them to follows
the customs. 

There have been instances where such women are
branded as witches beaten, burned, paraded naked, tonsured, forced to eat human
excrement, raped, teeth and fingernails are pulled out. There have also been
instances of mutilation of women’s body parts and organs including genitalia.
Women are tortured to death or murdered. Branding women as ‘witches’ cause them
harm and keep subordinate in the social hierarchy. It is often used to control
and oppress women who are deemed to be ‘strong’, ‘outspoken’ or have refused to
submit to coercion. For example, women may be branded witches if they have
sought to protect their bodily integrity or sexual autonomy and refused sexual
or romantic advances of a neighbour. Women are branded witches in order to
deprive them of their socio-economic or property rights. Women are branded as
witches to prevent them from participating in the public or political life of
their communities. Women who are accused of witchcraft in India, do not seek
any legal or police assistance often for fear of further violence and reprisals
in the absence of adequate protection by the law enforcement agencies . As per
statistics of Home department there reported 43 cases in state since 2011.
Rajasthan prevention of witch hunting Act was implemented in year 2015. It is
too early to analyse the efficacy in early stage. But recent studies on the
state laws against witch hunting gives a picture that, 18 year old law in Bihar
and 16 year old law in Jharkhand doesn’t gave overall protection from witch
hunting and related crimes. Early intervention to impact of law will help us to
bring substantial change in it. Demand for law raises in Rajasthan by 2000 and
first draft was prepared by State Women Commission in year 2005.  

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