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 dignity of our women in the panchayat and deter anyone from calling a woman a witch," she said.
"It is yet another social evil in our society where women are subjected to harassment and cruelty in the name of being a witch," 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 vice of harassment and ostracising of women after being branded witch.
Madhumala justified deterrent steps saying 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 provision of penalty up to Rs 5000.
Madhumala's husband and a social worker Devraj said that the panchayat took the step as there were instances of several women being subjected to cruelty.
He also emphasised on educating the villages against the evil and said that the practise will be eradicated only if it is fought collectively.
The Mithai panchayat's decision to root out the evil of hounding of women as come in for praise with Madhepura Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) Sanjay Kumar Nirala lauding the village elders for leading the war for social and gender equality in the society.