The Nari Nyay Sangh, composed of 19 women from Jharkhand’s Godda district, works to protect the legal rights of women facing domestic, social or sexual violence.
“After her husband’s death, her brother-in-law tried to axe her. He claimed she had eaten the soul of her husband,” said Yukta Devi, recalling a witch-hunting episode in Ghatkurawa village in Jharkhand’s Godda district. “After that, the entire community assembled to bring in an ojha (exorcist).”
“When we learned about this, I informed all the women in my panchayat. My husband locked me in a room because he knew I would intervene,” added 36-year-old Yukta Devi. “Thankfully, the other women arrived and stepped in.”
They proceeded to file a police report under the Prevention of Witch Practices Act and made sure that the woman accused of being a witch was treated with respect.
Fondly called ‘Badlav Didi’, Yukta and the other women in the story are part of the Nari Nyay Sangh, a group of 19 women belonging to different panchayats, who work towards protecting the legal rights of women facing domestic, social or sexual violence.
Recalling the longest-running case taken up by the Nari Nyay Sangh since its inception in 2016, another member Geeta Devi shared the story of Gulshan Ara, a 35-year-old paddy field worker from Chaura village in Godda. After six years of marriage, Gulshan’s husband had divorced her using triple talaq. The primary reason was they did not have any children. After the divorce, her marital family wanted to keep Gulshan out of the village. This was when the Nari Nyay Sangh stepped in. “After we warned her husband and mother-in-law of legal action, they agreed to reconcile,” explained Geeta. Now, despite their separation, Gulshan is able to live in the same hamlet as her husband.