Monday, 30th October 2017

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Awareness campaign to curb witch-hunt crimes

A van rolled out from Sakchi to cover entire East Singhbhum in 22 days

By Our Special Correspondent in Jamshedpur
  • Published 18.02.18
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MESSAGE ON WHEELS: East Singhbhum DDC Bindeshwari Maheshwari (extreme left) flags off the awareness van in Jamshedpur on Saturday. (Bhola Prasad)

Jamshedpur: East Singhbhum district administration on Saturday launched a massive awareness drive against witch-hunt related torture, a day after a 65-year-old woman and her daughter were tonsured and forced to consume human excreta on the suspicion of being witches at Sonahatu block in Ranchi, around 120 km from city.

On Saturday, an awareness van equipped with an amplifier system was rolled out from the district collectorate in Sakchi, Jamshedpur, to spread a message against the torture of women in the garb of witch-hunting. It also distributed leaflets containing an emergency distress number.

"This is a small move on the part of the district administration and the van will not only visit all the 11 block headquarters but also the remotest part of the blocks. The van will distribute pamphlets on crime against women and pass on information about distress numbers. We have consulted social organisations working against witchcraft and awareness seems to be best weapon against eradication of such crimes against women," East Singhbhum deputy development commissioner Bindeshwari Maheshwari said.

The van will stay in each block for two days and cover the entire district in 22 days.

The campaign will be monitored by the state social welfare department.

The leaflets will contain the distress number (0657-2221414) of Sakhi, a one-stop help centre for woman facing violence. Victims can also dial 100 to seek help.

"In the first phase of the campaign, we would like to cover places near block headquarters and remote areas. We have also directed all the 1,722 anganwadi workers to be mindful of any information on witchcraft-related crime and immediately inform the concerned CDPO (child development programme officer) who will make arrangements for the distressed women to be brought to the Sakchi centre for legal and financial help," district social welfare officer Laxmi Kumari said.

Kumari said they would also write a letter to the district superintendent of education Banke Bihari Singh to distribute leaflets on school premises to make children aware about the social evil.

Students of all the eight Kasturba Gandhi Awasiya Balika Vidyalaya in the district will also be informed about their legal rights against witch-craft-related crime from this academic session.

According to statistics available with Free Legal Aid Committee, an NGO that campaigns against witch-hunting, around five women were killed in Jamshedpur and 21 in entire Kolhan region last year.