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‘Witches’ of India: women without defense

Rubiya Bibi, a victim of witch hunting, was beaten, forced to eat human excreta and then thrown out of her husband's home

On February 13 this year, a senior defense ministry official of India said that the country was ready to test-fire, and become the 6th nation in the world to have a 5,000 km range Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Named Agni-5, the missile would be a huge leap towards strengthening India’s defense, said the official. Even as he was speaking, elsewhere in Eastern India, two women, accused of being ‘witches’, were burnt alive by their neighbors and relatives. Elderly, poor and utterly defenseless, the women died without even a policeman to protect them.

The shocking juxtaposition of this rapid modernization and amazing technological progress with superstition and practices befitting the medieval era is endemic in today’s India and it’s the women who are bearing the brunt of it. According to data available from the National Crime Record Bureau, more than 2,500 women suspected of practicing witchcraft have been killed in India over the last 15 years.

Witch hunting: murder most foul

Witchcraft, which is as old as sex work (sex workers prefer this term over the derogatory term prostitution), is known by different names such as 'Banamati', 'Chetabadi', Chillangi 'Hawa' or 'evil eye' or 'Halka', ‘daini ’, ‘Dayan’, ‘Chudail’ ‘Bhootni’, ‘Chilavan’, ‘Opri’ and so on, in different Indian languages. The names may be different, but the practice is the same: it is murder of women after causing them acute physical pain.

The descriptions of the killings are hair-raising and horrifying to the point of insanity. In most cases women are beaten until they fall unconscious and forced to eat their own excreta or drink urine before being burnt alive. In some places they are also stripped and paraded naked.

Rubiya Bibi, a 38-year old Muslim woman in Devgarh district of Jharkhand, a state in northern India recalls the horror of the day in 2009 when her husband’s brother and other male neighbors called her a witch. Rubiya’s body is crisscrossed with marks of beatings, inflicted by her tormentors.'First, they said I had performed black magic to make my husband mad, although he was sick for quite some time. Then, a cow died and my husband’s brother said that I was the reason. Every day, he would abuse and beat me in front of my children. Then one day, he and a few of his friends dragged me out of my house. They pulled my hair, slapped and kicked me and made me eat my own excreta saying it was the only way to treat a witch. Finally, they beat me unconscious. When I regained consciousness, I found myself on the road with my children crying beside me. With great difficulty, managed to flee and reach my father’s house here in Bara village (10 KM from her husband’s house) with them.' Rubiya recalls in horror.

Since Rubiya’s father Azad Sheikh, 64, is a rickshaw-puller who earns too little to support Rubiya and her 4 children, the woman is now forced to beg for a living.

Like Rubiya’s father, Kaleem Ansari is also a poor Muslim rickshaw puller in Pattharghatia village in Jharkhand. 2 years ago, Kaleem’s 70-year-old mother, Gulnoor Bibi was called a witch by a group of men from their village and beaten up. The same group then attacked his 80 year-old aunt, Sagiran Bibi, his brother’s middle-aged wife, Sakeena and another disabled woman called Sushila Devi, accusing all of them of practicing witchcraft. The men stripped and paraded the women outside their home and like Rubiya, they too were forced to drink urine. When Ansari tried to protest, the mob hit him, tied him to a pole and threatened to kill him if he went to the police.

In similar fashion, women are treated with barbaric cruelty all across India when branded a witch.

A power game

For long, witchcraft killing was seen as a mere act of superstition. But studies and observations by activists, legal experts and social campaigners have pointed out that such killings are more often perpetrated by men on women whom they identify as ‘rebels’: women who either ask for, or refuse to give up their rights. For example, a 2010 report by the Cornell Law School, US following a study it conducted on witch hunt in Jharkhand, notes, 'several causes motivate witch hunting. Sometimes, the victim is thought to have caused illness, death or a bad harvest. In other cases, she is being punished for refusing sexual advances or challenging the authority of the community elders.'

Of late, it has also been observed that most killings have a common pattern: the victims are always poor, mostly from marginalized communities and own some property. The killings occur when women try to resist attempts to grab their property, or refuse sexual favors demanded by men who have dominant position in the community. The brutality that follows, therefore, is an act of ‘punishment’ to the women for being rebellious.

Says Prabha Jaisawal of Free Legal Committee (FLAC) – an NGO based in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand that provides legal aid to witchcraft victims, 'in many cases, a woman who inherits land from her deceased husband is asked to disown the land by her husband's family or other men. If she resists, they approach the Ojhas (traditional village doctors) and bribe them to brand her a witch. At other times, the strategy of branding a woman a witch is used against women who spurn the sexual advances of the powerful men in the community.'

FLAC's campaign against witch-hunting includes legal support to the victims, awareness and legal literacy through street-plays and publications, raising the issue at legal and human rights forum and the formulation of laws and amendments.

Kartik Navayan, a Dalit (an extremely marginalized community officially termed as Scheduled Caste) opinion leader in Hyderabad says that most of the victims are from the socially weaker segments such as Dalits and they are often punished by the “upper castes” for defending their rights to land. Navayan cites several examples where Dalit women have been called witches and murdered after they refused to sell their land to non-Dalit (considered to have a ‘superior’ status in the society) families at a throw-away prices that were offered.

Political participation leads to witch branding

In 2008, a Dalit woman called Lata Sahu was stripped and paraded in Bijli, a village in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Her crime: daring to contest against a non-Dalit woman in the Gram Panchayat (village council) elections. According to Brinda Karat, president of All India Democratic Women’s Association, a political organization, cases of ‘witch hunt’ are on the rise in areas where women are participating in grass root politics. In fact in the last two years 147 such murders had taken place, Karat says. 'The only women active in politics among the tribal people are those aligned with the Left movement. Instead of calling them Communists they call them witches. That is the only difference,' she recently stated.

Dismal rate of conviction

In India, at least 5 states, namely, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and West Bengal have a law against witchcraft killing. However, activists have described the acts as legislation without teeth. Here is an example of that: for all the torture that a woman suffers on being branded a witch, the Act recommends imprisonment for a term that may extend to three months or a fine of Rs 1,000 (US$1 = Rs 45.6) or both for the wrongdoer.

The Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK), a voluntary organization based in Dehradun (the capital of Uttarakhand, a north Indian state) committed to putting an end to witch hunting crimes, has reported that in most cases, the accused is not arrested even after years. The Bihar Women's Network (BWN), another NGO, has pointed out that there 177 pending cases under the Prevention of Witch Practices Act in Bihar state alone.

Taking cognizance of the report by BWN, recently, the Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) member justice (retired) Rajendra Prasad ordered the police to expedite the cases pertaining to witch-hunting. Calling such killing as “the worst form of human rights violation,” justice Prasad said there was a necessity of spreading human rights literacy among various sections of society.

But what leads to police inaction against witch hunters? According to Aparna Dwivedi, a Human Rights lawyer based in New Delhi, the basic problem of implementing laws against witch hunts is that since the crime is usually committed by a group of people, it’s difficult to pinpoint the blame. 'Also, if the police take action, the victim cannot go back to the community which has stigmatized her. So rehabilitating her is another challenge,' she says.

Rubiya Bibi, the victim from Jharkhand is an example. Soon after she was tortured and thrown out of her husband’s home, Rubiya had filed a police case against those who tortured her. But 3 years later, nothing has happened. “My children do not go out to play because other children call them ‘children of a witch’. I have to live with this shame forever,” says a distraught Rubiya.

Media reports undermine the gravity

Witch-hunting is just another grave crime against women that involves physical violence, often amounting to murder. Unfortunately though, in the media, the issue is often projected as a ‘tribal only” subject: something that happens only in a tribal community. After the killing of 60-year old Dharmasree Tripura on 13th February in southern Tripura came to light, a leading news daily in this state reported it this way: 'black magic, witchcraft and superstitious beliefs have been part of the tribal customs. Many people, mostly women, have been killed every year in the northeastern states for allegedly practicing sorcery and witchcraft, mostly in tribal-dominated areas...'

The truth, however, is that branding of women as witches and subjecting them to acute physical pain, humiliation and murder exists in several other communities. Cases of women like Rubiya bibi, Sakeena and Lata Sahu are just a few examples; there are dozens of such examples elsewhere in the country where the victim is from a non-tribal community.

In this light, media’s projection of witchcraft killing as a ‘tribal only’ subject not only marginalizes the problem, but also lightens the pressure on the central government to see it as a grave national problem.

National problem needs national legislation

Despite a visible increase in the number of women being killed as witches, the central government of India is not willing to bring in a national law to prevent witch hunting. The government is of the opinion that witchcraft killings are being committed at village level and therefore the states should deal with them. However, social activists say that the issue of witch hunting is too widely prevalent in the country to be seen as a regional problem. To put things into perspective, out of 29 states of India, at least 12 states — Jharkhand, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Assam and Bihar — are recognized as areas where witch hunts are rampant today.

“Law alone cannot bring real change”

However, as Prabha Jaisawal says, ‘only legislation cannot bring real change. The real change must begin at the community level.' Therefore, there is also an urgent need for the government to launch a continuous, nationwide campaign against witch hunting, just like it has an ongoing campaign against domestic violence. However, this can be actualized only if people and government, with a strong political will, work together. Says Karthik Navayan, 'the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh where the rate of witchcraft killing is alarmingly high, are also the states that have strong presence of the Maoist guerillas - usually seen as ultra-atheist revolutionaries with progressive thinking. Clearly, the Maoist’s fight for "social justice" has eluded poor and weaker women who have continued to be victims of killings and atrocities in the name of sorcery.'

Some activists also suggest that every government must have a mechanism to provide proper monetary compensation and rehabilitation to women victimized by witch hunt. This, coupled with an effective law and political determination to prevent witchcraft, is the only way forward.

Without that, it is most likely that the poorest and weakest of women of India will continue to be defenseless and cases of witch-killing and persecution of women will continue to rise, no matter how many ICBMs are added to the country’s arsenal.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Comments

jmadhur's picture

Well written

To read this a day before International Women's Day is like opening my eyes to the ground realities regarding true status of women in developing countries. I want to give you thanks for writing about this issue which is often forgotten or avoided.

Thanks and wishing a happy and safe women's day to you and all the women you wrote about.

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks you Jmadhur

Thanks for you kind words and your wishes. Wishing you a beautiful and empowering women's day too!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

usha kc's picture

you rocked again!!!!! I

you rocked again!!!!! I specially give you a big thanx for writting on this issue . Women in Nepal also facing the same cruel practice. Recently a 40 years old widow has been beaten and burnt alive by her own close relatives.
You did very great dear .

so much love

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks sister

My dear sister

Thank you for your continuous support and encouragement. It helps me a lot! I know women in India and Nepal share many misfortunes. This is what is uniting us also. On this International Women's day I promise to always stand by you and other sisters, to raise my voice against all the evils and do my best to make it a safer, better world

Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Stella, once again you have produced a thought-provoking piece!

You mentioned the village doctor? Is he seen as a type of village priest or juju man as in some African cultures? If so, is it ok for a man to have these mystical powers but not for a woman in these communities? What is it that he is considered to have that gives him that power to deem a woman a witch?

It would also be nice to hear of the perceptions of the police. You mentioned that many would put it down to tribal issues but how do they, and the judiciary, deal with issues that are in conflict with national law? Your article suggests that they either drag their feet or ignore the individual.

I hope that you are able to make this your article of focus for your photo or video assignment. I would be interested in knowing more.

Best,

Juliette

Stella Paul's picture

You are bank-able!!! Love you

Dear Juliette

Its wonderful to have someone like you who always goes an extra step ahead to keep the discussion rolling. Did I tell you I love you for that?

Consulting a shaman/priest/'ojha' is still quite common and yes, here the man is always right; he is the one who cures, while the woman, if she has any magic power, is the one who does evil. So here, as you rightly guessed, its good magic of a man vs bad/black magic of woman. This in itself can be a story, though it has its own danger of appearing to be endorsing superstition.

Anyway, moving on, the police is plain stupid ("those women...they are not literate/rich, so who cares?") and plain corrupt (take money, refuse to move a file) at times, but sometimes, when the pressure builds up they do pay heed, but in a broader spectrum, it still remains a no-priority issue for them. They are not bothered about how its affecting the national/state image within or outside the country. Our police force is famous for their thick skin.

Module 5 - thanks for the suggestion! I will be missing the skype call due to an upcoming trip and was thinking of how to discuss my plans ...you are an angel for helping out!!!

Love and stay blessed!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

clairseach's picture

Excellent article

I lived in India for most of 2010 and this is all too familiar to me. Not witch hunting, per se, but what women in rural India have to deal with. And the corrupt police situation. I love India, but I've most definitely observed her feet of clay. I hope you can make a difference for Rubiya and for millions of other women like her with your writing.

And forgive me for this. I am not only an ESL teacher, but I am mildly OCD, so I have to tell you this. It is spelled "witches", not "witche's". Apostrophes followed by an s show possession and can also be a contraction for the noun + is, but they do not show plurality.

Hope your Women's Day was great and I look forward to reading more of your work!

Judy

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks and Appreciate

Thank you Judy for reading through and caring to comment. We indeed have so much to fight for and good to know there are people like you to constantly cheer on. Also appreciate pointing out of the error - more of a typo actually, but your OCD does help one to be careful :) Wish you a great week ahead!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Sahro's picture

You are Rubiya's voice

Stella, once again you did it; you have us reading your piece with alot of interest. This one really touched me and i am somehow saddened by what these poor victims go through. I remember sometime ago i read a similar story that took place in Nigeria about children being accused of witchcraft. Its so sad really.

How and where are Rubiya and child now?
Thank you for bringing this story to our attention and for being Rubiya's voice.

God bless you and by all means keep writing.
xoxoxox

WorldPulse Community Advisory Board Member
Globcal Ambassador at: https://www.facebook.com/301986015692/photos/a.10150304573125693.561701....
Founder

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks and more

My dear Sahro

Thank you for all these beautiful words and encouragement. It does feel bad to be focusing on a theme as dark as this one. But because a lot of women have been doing exactly that, improvements have been happening; laws are coming at state level and today we have upped the demand, calling for a national law. This is how, through continuous highlighting, changes take place.

Rubiya lives with her father and her situation hasn't changed much. But her children are now going to the village school and Rubiya's case against her torturers might come up to the court this year - a ray of hope.

On a different note, congrats again on your recent wins and why don't you share your wonderful news here on WP as well? After all, its glories befitting a real champ! Love you!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Sahro's picture

You are Rubiya's voice

Stella, once again you did it; you have us reading your piece with alot of interest. This one really touched me and i am somehow saddened by what these poor victims go through. I remember sometime ago i read a similar story that took place in Nigeria about children being accused of witchcraft. Its so sad really.

How and where are Rubiya and child now?
Thank you for bringing this story to our attention and for being Rubiya's voice.

God bless you and by all means keep writing.
xoxoxox

WorldPulse Community Advisory Board Member
Globcal Ambassador at: https://www.facebook.com/301986015692/photos/a.10150304573125693.561701....
Founder

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks and more

My dear Sahro

Thank you for all these beautiful words and encouragement. It does feel bad to be focusing on a theme as dark as this one. But because a lot of women have been doing exactly that, improvements have been happening; laws are coming at state level and today we have upped the demand, calling for a national law. This is how, through continuous highlighting, changes take place.

Rubiya lives with her father and her situation hasn't changed much. But her children are now going to the village school and Rubiya's case against her torturers might come up to the court this year - a ray of hope.

On a different note, congrats again on your recent wins and why don't you share your wonderful news here on WP as well? After all, its glories befitting a real champ! Love you!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Duda's picture

Dear Stella,

You did such a great piece, as always.

Since the VOF program has started, I noticed your talent for writing and so many beautiful pieces.

Your name (in Italian means STAR) is appropriate name for you, because you are an inspiration for all of us.

The sun always comes out after the cloud.

I wish you a great and successful trip.

Best wishes,
Duda

Stella Paul's picture

Will always remember that

Dear Duda

The sun always comes out after the cloud." - Its such a beautiful and inspiring line!!! I am going to remember it, always. And I thank WP and God for letting me know sisters like you with whom I can never feel darkness again. Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Leslie Stoupas's picture

Scapegoats

Thanks, Stella, for sharing such an important and well-written story. I appreciate that you focus on the tendency to scapegoat women who do not go along with the plan that men in authority and/or social dictates have for them. Witchcraft accusations throughout history and around the world often carry this common theme, and awareness of it is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle. With constant diligence, I hope the cycle will be broken in India, too, and soon!

Leslie Stoupas

Stella Paul's picture

Share your belief

Dear Leslie

Not so long ago, we didn't have a single legislation to prevent witch hunting or punish those associated with it. From there, we are moving - rather inching - towards a national law. So, changes are happening, though not as fast as it should have. A big problem is, our political parties just are not ready to tackle these issues yet. We just had elections in 5 states and not a single one of them had in their manifesto issues like gender equality or stopping crime against women. So, building political will is a huge need of the hour and I think media can do an excellent job in doing this. I do share your belief that one day this will be an issue of the past, safely buried behind us.

Thanks - yet again - for reading and the encouraging words. God bless!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

ikirimat's picture

Stella, your article has been

Stella, your article has been an eye opener to me. this is something I had really not given an indepth thought but you clearly bring it out. Indeed i agree that the household/ family unit is where these issues should begin if they are to be addressed.

Thanks again , you did it

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


Stella Paul's picture

United we do

Dear Grace

We all are doing well and besides dedication and talent, it is possible because we are so well supported by each other. I am lucky to have sister like you beside me! United we can make a mark. Witchcraft is a horror, but I think time will see us eradicating this horror too.

Much love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

amiesissoho's picture

The sad thing is that only

The sad thing is that only women usually from poor backgrounds and / or the ones who do not have a big kinship link in the community are the one accused of being witches. Another category is assertive women who does not bow to many of the cultural norms that reinforce the subordination of women. It is really about power relations. Once again well done.

Amie

Stella Paul's picture

Once again, thank you my sister

You are a powerhouse of energy and encouragement Amie, did someone tell you that? You are constantly giving so much support to everyone here - its a gift to have you as a friend.

Coming back to the story, it indeed is a power game and this is why women actually need to be more involved in political process (which was your subject of module 4) because unless they get in the policy making level, crimes like witchcraft -which is women-specific issues - will not get enough seriousness. Thank you Amie!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Dear Stella, to read your text and comovo me think of all the women on being ahead of the thinking of most taxed and were killed as witches.

It's very simple for a man to put multiple labels on a woman blame it for all misfortunes that he alone is the cause.

In Brazil there are shelters for women victims of domestic violence. This woman is accompanied by technical and gradually return to normal life.

Maybe it was the case for governments to invest in shelters for these women and their children, psychological and social support and the return to life.
But only remove these victims and the community to protect them is not enough need tougher laws and works with educational communities.

The figure of man in space is one of the most strategic points, they should be responsible for this change. This change should encompass the families for guiding children in schools, hospitals and public services. These actions need to be disclosed and all that it entails for the aggressor. But it is the families to change their way of looking at the other. The government should invest in campaigns for the victims of violence we must ALL be called by the various means of communication for the responsibility for life.

Kisses,

Valéria Barbosa

Stella Paul's picture

Wonderful thoughts

Dear Valeria

What great suggestion you have: shelter for victims of violence! Of course it can not be a permanent solution, but you know there are many women whose parents have died and who have no relatives to support them.So, when they are declared witches and they are thrown out of their homes (means their husbands' homes) they have to live on the street. I really like your idea and what Brazil government is doing. This can be very useful to those women I just mentioned.

Also agree 100% with your other suggestions. It is a shame for the whole society that women are tortured and killed as witches and it needs people from all walks of the society to come together and fight against this.

Thanks Valeria,hugs and kisses!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Celine's picture

You rock Stella

Coincidentally again, we write on the same issue for module 4.
Good writing Stella-- as always, and thank you for educating me on the situation of the belief in witches in India. In Nigeria, people also believe in witches and spiritual powers. In fact, the belief in supernatural powers and 'destructive activities' of witches has grave effects on the lives of innocent children in a region in Nigeria. It calls for concern and I am glad government has intervened by way of enacting laws protecting the children.

Celine

Stella Paul's picture

:) we are connected

Yes dear Celine, we are on the same subject - or shall we say, the same boat - again! And I love it because it makes me feel we are connected. I feel that by writing on the same issue, but with different angles, we are together giving the world a complete picture of the same wrong and also showing how important it is to stop it. Thank you Celine, always and loads of love too.

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Pushpa Achanta's picture

Critical writing

Stella dear,

Moved and glad to hear you powerful and touching voice, again. As someone said, "India lives in multiple centuries simultaneously". Unfortunately, in most countries "national security" (profiting the military and mining industries) is more important than the welfare of the marginalized!

Awaiting more from u.

Love,
Pushpa

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you!

Thank you my dear editor! I just returned from London and the first thing I am doing is replying to you.Feels great to connect again. I agree with you on that point of ignoring the marginalized time and again...its a global phenomenon. But in India we have been able to eradicate traditions like 'Sati' , so why not witchcraft. I believe in hope, so lets hope there will be a better future. Thanks again for all your support and kind words!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Caitlyn's picture

Dear Stella, what an

Dear Stella, what an incredible piece of writing. Your piece was so well reserached and very powerful. The pain those women must feel breaks my heart, but you giving them a voice is already part of their healing. You can do so much with a poweful voice, and I hope very much that you can use yours to be a real force for change in India.

Best wishes and love,

Caitlyn

Stella Paul's picture

We are not so different

Dear Caitlyn

I just had a look at your profile and it seems to me we are not dos different after all; your challenges are mine as well And I also share some of your passion. Isn't that wonderful? I guess this is great about this forum where one gets to meet and be heard by people of one's own kind. I sent you an invite, hope you will accept.

Coming back to your comment, thank you very much for reading and encouraging me so much! It does mean a lot! God bless you!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

sabitrisanyal's picture

Dear Stella, I went through

Dear Stella,
I went through your journal and all I can say is this practice is still held in many parts of West Bengal besides Bihar,Orrisa,Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. These inhuman activities do take place in the most rural places of these states and it's strange that people do not seem to protest against it but rather they follow it blindly.
Witchcraft,Black magic etc. are the obvious enimies for a developing society and it hurts me to find that 99.99% of the victims are women.

Your writings were very true and someday I do dream of a INDIA free of superstitions. Only we, yes. US can bring a change to the current status in the most significant way.

With Warm Regards,

Sabitri

Stella Paul's picture

So true

Dear Sabitri

You are absolutely right. We the women can change this world to make it a better place for all of us. Different women have different abilities. I am happy that those who can voice well, are coming here together to speak out and highlight the spots where change is needed. Thanks very much for reading through and for writing this lovely comment. God bless you and may your voice be more powerful with every passing day!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

noreens's picture

Hi Stella, I think you did a

Hi Stella,

I think you did a great job on this article. Very well written. What a sad subject though. I agree with Juliette - it would make a really interesting photo / video story.

Love,
Noreen

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks Noreen!

Dear Noreen

Just back from London and reading your comment, feeling re-energized. I would love to do the photo-series, but am not sure if it would be logistically possible. Will sure try my best though! Hope you are already on the move for module 5.
Best wishes and love!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Okeny-Lucia's picture

My heart goes to..............

Hi,
Thank you for this heart rendering piece of article.And when I think we are almost out there near to empowerment,something just comes up ( like this feature story) about the hardest situation women and children are living in.

India being a country of fine wise men and women in History ,just brings to reality that we are still struggling to safeguard the lives of women in society.

The partriachial mindset in the society has taken deep roots,and witches too here in Kenya are burned,maimed to death,it is said there is no justification for them living.Nobody has time to explore if the circumstances taking place are linked to witches or it is human failure to achieve their goals

I hear you Stella, this is a great story to share to my folks in the village.A lesson to be reflected on.

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks my sister!

Dear Lucia

Thank you so much for such great words of understanding. Understanding each others' situation, I believe, is the beginning of building a global movement against a common problem. You do that well my sister. I stand by you in opposing torture of women accused as witches, no matter where it is happening. Together, it is possible to decrease the level of the crime and eventually eradicate it.

Love and best wishes

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

MaDube's picture

Stella my love

When I began reading I was like I have read this somewhere before. Daft me of course I had, and it was on your blog. Your article just reminded me of this movie I watched 2 years ago. It portrayed the treatment of widows in India, even widows who are as young as 9 years old because the man they should have married in terms of the arranged marriage is dead. The superstition in that film, which led to the women being treated like lepers, confined to their own house, they could not fetch water where others did, or bathe where other women bathed, or be seen in the market like other women simply because they were widows. Such superstitions have tragic consequences because in the end one of the widows committed suicide.

Great post and I hope the with the same energy the state invested in buying and developing modern ammunition so will they roll out a campaign to modernise the way people think and crush such practices as witch hunting and widow abuse.

Love,

MaDube

Stella Paul's picture

I quote you

Sometimes when I feel low, I feel tempted to question my own effectiveness in bringing real change. This day began like that. Blame it on the jet lag (I just returned home from London), I felt quite drained. But it went away when I read your comment. What I like here is that each one of us ends a comment by hoping for something better. That, and the fact that we are now together as a group, than mere individuals, make one really feels stronger.

I am going to read your post soon, but right now, thank you for being there and cheering on. Love you tons!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Breese's picture

Dear Stella - thank you for

Dear Stella - thank you for so eloquently and powerfully standing up for volunerable women, and speaking out against a terrible and unjust practice. It's so important to change not just the laws but the mindsets of the people as well. In this way, others will join you in putting a stop to such a practice.

mrbeckbeck's picture

Contradictions

Thank you Stella for this powerful article. The way you've structured the piece clearly shows the contradictions of a rapidly changing country. I'm shocked that such a horrible practice is so widespread. Just like you say, it's going to take a combination of changing attitudes, passing and enforcing laws, and deep commitment to make lasting change possible. Very interesting and thought provoking article.

You're such a great writer, thank you for sharing your voice and raising the volume on so many important issues.
Congratulations!
Scott

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Manager

Stella Paul's picture

I owe you one

Dear Scott

Sometimes, when good times nosedive after a roaring high, I, like many others, go into a tight shell. This week had been like that with me going through a nasty creative lull. But then, I read this comment of yours and it encouraged me to walk out of that shell and get back to work!

I owe you tons of thanks for that! THANKS!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

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