Rajasthan to act against witches, tormentors

Jaipur, India - Rajasthan plans to check atrocities on women branded as witches - at the same time it will jail practitioners of witchcraft.

The Rajasthan State Commission for Women has submitted the draft of a bill called the Rajasthan Prevention of Witch Practices Act to the state government.

The draft includes provision of a 10-year prison term to anyone hurting or torturing women in the name of hunting down witches. It also imposes a three-year imprisonment on professional witch practitioners.

"We completed the draft with the help of various experts. We expect its implementation soon," Pawan Surana, head of the Rajasthan women body, told IANS.

She said proper implementation of the act would considerably help in checking atrocities on women branded as witches.

But she added that the only way to eliminate atrocities would be to strengthen education among women.

In many parts of India, women exhibiting abnormal behaviour are often branded witches or "dain" and ill treated, sometimes even shackled. There have been cases of such women being stoned to death.

"This act became a necessity as there was no law in the state to prevent such atrocities," Surana said.

The draft says that if a woman commits suicide after being called a witch and ill treated by her family, those found guilty would be liable for imprisonment for five years.