Padmashree Birubala Rabha, the ‘witch hunt’ crusader from Assam was recently awarded by Geneva-based Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF).
The award was conferred to Birubala Rabha at Gauhati University (GU), by Special DGP, Pallab Bhattacharjee.
The 69-year-old crusader was awarded for her courage to change lives in rural Assam. She has risked her life on several occasions to save victims of Assam’s long witch hunt problem.
Every year, the WWSF awards $1,000 each to 10 outstanding women who contribute to improve the quality of life in their areas.
The initiatives taken up by these women include sharing knowledge, protecting the environment, standing up for women’s rights, and participating in the realization of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
More than 200 people, mostly women in interior Assam have been labeled witches by superstitious villagers and lynched since 2002. They are hunted down and ostracised by the community and the village.
Villagers often blame such victims when illness, death or financial loss occurs in a family, claiming that evil spells cast on them by him/her caused the misery.
At least 17 of the 33 districts in Assam have seen such crime. Rabha has also been part of campaigns against superstition which resulting in such heinous crimes.
Rabha’s tireless campaigns led to Assam government passing the Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act, 2015, which made “witch-hunting” a cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offence, said to be the strictest in India of such a crime.