‘SACHETANA: Against the violence based on witch allegation’ is an independent documentary made by Protection of People’s Rights Nepal (PPR Nepal), a lawyer-lead non-governmental, non-profit organization established in 2002 to advocate and work in the area of human rights and access to justice.
The documentary features interviews of women who have been accused of witchcraft, insightful comments and discussion from lawyers working for PPR Nepal, and first person accounts from witnesses of the witch-hunts. It depicts footage from real incidents of witch hunting and views from experts regarding this severe violence against women, members of the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal, of Nepal Women’s Commission, women’s rights activists, and representatives of the Supreme Court of Nepal, amongst others.
The screening event, at the GHRD offices in The Hague, was very well attended, and was followed by a lively discussion lead by a PPR Nepal human rights activist. After some initial responses to the emotive and challenging content of the film, the discussion turned to appropriate actions and policies to alleviate this problem. As a somewhat fitting nod to the day (the 16th birthday of Pakistani education activist Malala, also ‘Malala Day’), a common theme connecting virtually every comment and idea in the discussion was education.
Following the film was an inspirational speech and subsequent discussion lead by the activist, who is involved directly in the remedying the problem of witchcraft allegations in Nepal. Many people were able to learn more about a topic that is relatively unreported in mainstream media, and yet affects so many vulnerable women and their families. The event was mutually beneficial, with the organizations involved benefitting from each other’s valuable input and alternate perspectives.
PPR Nepal estimates the number of witchcraft allegations and hunts at over 100 per year. However, the organization states that lack of reporting or serious acknowledgement from the police mean that true estimates are difficult to obtain and that the number is likely greater than this.
You can find out more about the culture of witchcraft allegations and superstition in Nepal, and the organization itself, by visiting PPR Nepal’s website here.