Mostly, illiterate women with weak financial status are accused of witchcraft, they are beaten up and even murdered.
DANG, Sept 19: Tanki Rawat of Dangisharan Rural Municipality of Dang often used to fall ill. Though she saw several doctors, her illness could not be cured. So, at last, she went to a shaman who told her that the reason behind her illness was her mother-in-law Khopi who 'practiced witchcraft.'
Following the shaman's advice, Tanki persuaded her mother-in-law to visit Salyan with her for her treatment by a shaman. On August 21, she murdered her old mother-in-law on the way. "I had to kill her as I won't have a good health as long as she would live," Prakash Sapkota, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) of Area Police Office (APO), Tulsipur, quoted Tanki as saying, "The shaman told me that she was the cause of my illness."
In yet another case, a man in Tulsipur was battling with cancer for long. He even went to India for treatment but to no avail. However, his family members insisted on visiting a shaman. They were told that he was ill because of his wife who was 'a witch'. After learning that she was a 'witch', the family members did not just mistreat the woman but beat her up brutally.
"Her body was full of bruises and was bleeding badly after being beaten up by the family members," said one of the villagers who witnessed the heinous incident. Police arrested those involved in the incident immediately. However, the woman refused to file a complaint against her family members stating she would have nowhere to go if she went against them. After being warned by the police, the family members promised not to mistreat her again.
These are just the representative cases of how women in the rural parts of the district are subjected to violence because of superstitions. Still, a large number of women are ostracized and isolated on the charge of witchcraft. Even in this 21st century, many people trust shamans instead of doctors to cure their illnesses.
Accusations of witchcraft by shamans make life hell for a large number of women. "Even in the 21st century, we have not been able to get rid of shamans and witch doctors," said Anita Devkota, a member of the National Assembly.
Recently, Tulasa Koirala, 45 of Bardaghat Municipality, Nawalparasai accused two women of Lamahi Municipality of practising witchcraft. Reportedly, both the women are below 30 years. Tulasa is known as a 'Mata' (a self-styled god-woman) in her locality. A local had invited her to cure the illness of one of his family members.
After reaching his house, Tulasa urged the family members to perform a pooja (worship). Following her advice, the family members performed the pooja inviting a large number of villagers. Suddenly, Tulasa attacked two women present in the crowd, accusing them of being witches.
She did not only beat them up mercilessly but also forced them to eat chilies. Currently, Tulasa is in jail following a complaint by the victims. On June 20, the court sentenced her to six months in jail. Mostly, illiterate women with weak financial status are accused of witchcraft. Many of them keep tolerating the pain and torture as they lack access to the authorities.