A court in Nepal has jailed members of a mob who burned alive a 40-year-old woman after accusing her of casting black magic spells in a remote southern village, an official said Tuesday.
Mother-of-two Dhengani Devi Mahato died when she was severely beaten, doused in kerosene and set alight in February last year after the village shaman (traditional spiritual healer) accused her of practising witchcraft.
“Eight men including a shaman have been convicted of murder. The district court has sentenced each of them for 20 years,” Din Bandhu Baral, an officer at Chitwan district court, told AFP. The verdicts were handed down on Monday.
“I think this will serve as an apt precedent at a time when protests are being organised across the country demanding stern action against the perpetrators of violence against women.”
Baghauda village, inhabited by ethnic Tharus and other indigenous tribespeople, is a 90-minute drive from the nearest town of Bharatpur.
Hundreds of lower-caste women suffer abuse at the hands of “witch hunters” every year in Nepal, where superstition and caste-based discrimination remain rife and where most communities still operate on strict patriarchal lines.
Human rights campaigners say the perpetrators of such crimes are rarely brought to justice.
In the capital Kathmandu, hundreds have been protesting since the end of December over the alleged rape and robbery of a maid by government officials and other cases of violence against women.