Panchayat imposes fine for branding woman a 'witch'

Days after banning consumption of liquor, gambling and playing of “obscene” songs, a panchayat in Bihar’s Madhepura district has again cracked the whip, this time against those branding any woman a witch.

The Mithai panchayat has decided to impose a penalty of Rs 2,100 on anyone calling a woman a witch, panchayat chief (mukhiya) Madhumala said. “We have taken a unanimous decision to protect the dignity of our women in the panchayat and deter anyone from calling a woman a witch.. It is yet another social evil in our society where women are subjected to harassment and cruelty,” she said.

The decision in this regard was taken days ahead of the festival of light, Diwali, the mukhiya said and hoped that the resolution will encourage people of her panchayat to help eradicate the age-old harassment of women. Madhumala justified the decision by saying that the vice persisted despite a law being in place over the past 13 years to root it out.
 
The step against women being subjected to various cruelties, including death in some instances, has come three weeks after the Mithai panchayat banned consumption of liquor, gambling and playing obscene songs/film with a provision of penalty up to Rs 5,000.

Madhumala’s husband and a social worker Devraj said the panchayat took the step as there were instances of several women being subjected to cruelty. He also emphasised on educating the villagers against the evil and said the practice will be eradicated only if it is fought collectively.

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