New law to protect women branded ‘witches’ in offing

Kathmandu, October 2

The Anti-witchcraft (Crime and Punishment) Act, 2014, recently passed by the Legislature-Parliament stipulates stringent action against those involved in the inhuman treatment of women accused of practicing witchcraft. The law will come into force after the President authenticates it.

According to the Act, the perpetrators of such an act may be fined up to Rs 100,000, along with a jail sentence of up to 10 years.

As per the Muluki Ain (Civil Code), those accused of torturing women for ‘practicing witchcraft’ was liable to a fine ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000. But the new anti-witchcraft Act envisages stringent punishment for the perpetrators as women continue to be tortured physically and mentally on the charge of practicing witchcraft. It is expected that the new law would discourage such incidents.

Similarly, slandering the family members of the victims is also considered an offence in the Act. Any persons found involved in such an act may face a fine of up to Rs 30,000, along with a jail term of up to three years.

“If the victim is ostracised from his/her residence or society, the perpetrators will be imprisoned for a term not exceeding five years and fined up to Rs 50,000,” states the new Act.

Similarly, anyone who is involved in accusing a victim of being a witch and practicing black magic based on the verdict of witch doctors or tantriks will be sentenced to seven years in jail and fined Rs 70,000.

In case the perpetrator fails to pay compensation to the victim on grounds of his/her poor financial status, the government will make necessary arrangements for relief to the victim through Gender Violence Prevention Fund.