Friday, December 18, 2009

[ZESTCaste] Nepal's Dalit women tortured in charge of witchcraft

Nepal's Dalit women tortured in charge of witchcraft
News Date: 17th December 2009

Jugumani Chaudhary, a Nepali Dalit woman aged 30 has decided to go to
India leaving motherland forever because she was accused of witch in
her village.

Jugumani, from a remote village of Ramshikhar Jhala in Kailali
district, some 470 km far-west of the capital Kathmandu, reached this

decision after she was forced to rove around her village naked.

"I'm so ashamed. After leaving my two young daughters in maternal
home, I will leave for India together with my husband and two young
sons," Jugmani, mother of four children, told Xinhua on Tuesday.

The incident happened on Nov. 8 that the illiterate woman Jugmani was
beaten brutally all over her body and made to rove village naked by
her in-laws relative.

"When my mother-in-law's brother died, her nephew blamed me of witch
and beat me black and blue. My mother-in-laws's nephew and his wife
together brought me out of my house and tried to force me to eat human
excreta," Jugmani recalled how she was tortured.

There are thousands of Dalit woman in hundreds of remote villages in
Nepal who are treated inhumanely and killed in accusation of
witchcraft, according to human rights activists.

"These women who are tortured mentally and physically in an accusation
of witchcraft belong to socio-economically retarded Dalit community
who are considered as untouchable in Nepal," said Durga Sob, President
of the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO).

FEDO organized a public-hearing program in capital amid mass people
comprising ministers, officials, lawmakers, activists, victims and
media persons for "women victimized in accusation of witchcraft"
following 16 days international campaign against gender violence. FEDO
brought six sufferers as examples who represent thousands of women in
Nepal deprived of their fundamental human rights.

According to Sob, the community of Dalit women lack education, health
facilities, faces social discrimination, among others. "There are no
authorized institutions where these women can complain of violence
against them. Eventhough, there are few institutions; these unaware
uneducated women do not know how to complain.

"They have lost their hope from administration. Since this is the
social crime, the local police also solve the problem with a formal
agreement of "understanding" between victim and assailant after which
assailants are free to do yet another crime," Sob said emphasizing
weakness of justice.

Siya Devi Mandal of Saptari district, some 190 km south east of
Kathmandu is another example of victim of witchcraft in Nepal. Siya

aged 47, is a mother of four children was accused of witch 10 years before.

Her family, living by selling vegetable, are tortured by the village
they are living. "None of our village talks with us, neither they
touch us.

If any one dies in the village they blame me for it," she said.

She said that because of this accusation, no one is ready to marry her
daughter who is now 18 years old.

The fate of suffering Dalit women was made public as the Nepali
government declared 2010 as the year against gender violence. The

has brought various positive programs to control violence against
women and to drive campaign for behavioral change in society.

"Until and unless we spread social awareness in remote level,
implement the existing laws against gender violence, if we begin to
aware people now then the result will come after 20 years, so social
development is not easy," Nepali Minister for Women, Children and
Social Welfare Sharba Dev Ojha told Xinhua.

According to Ojha, his ministry under the monitoring of Women
Department is performing regular program such as informal education,

vocational training and income generating training, awareness
programs, among others for the empowerment of backward women.

These programs somehow have not reached the each corner of 75
districts in Nepal. But are in the process of reaching root level,
said Ojha, adding that there has to be coordination between non-
governmental organizations and governmental organizations.

Regarding 2010 as a year against gender violence, government is trying
to set up an information center in each Village Development Committee
(VDC) in 75 districts where victims can complain of their sufferings.

"We are doing our level best to control gender violence and create
awareness in public level," Ojha said.

Source: Xinhua/GNA

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