The branding of any woman as a witch is violation of human rights and the government will frame rules to ensure justice to such victims, said minister for Women and Child Development, Prafulla Samal.

He was addressing a workshop in the issue of women’s right violation due to witch branding organised by Action Aid and National Commission for Women here on Wednesday.

Samal heard the horrifying experience of victims who had come from nine districts of Ganjam, Gajapati, Keonjhar, Sundergarh, Kandhmal, Malkangiri, Koraput, Nuapada and Rayagada.

Witch hunting should end in the state, they said, the government needs to identify the most vulnerable areas and take appropriate action to stop the heinous crime.

Samal said that government had enacted a law in this regard and soon it will frame rules to ensure effective enforcement. A women victim from Ganjam shared her plight of how she was branded as witch and the related violence she faced.

Mrs Kasturi Mohapatra, chairperson, Odisha State Commission for Child Rights said that branding any person as a witch is violation of human rights and that prevent people from living a dignified life.

The children of victims should be protected and ensured with education and basic health care facilities as their rights. Mr. Debabrat Patra, Regional Manager of Action Aid while sharing the key recommendations of the workshop, he said government need to identify the high prevalent areas of the issue of witch branding related violence and create awareness as preventive measures.

The victims need to be rehabilitated properly and brought back to the village and link them with the existing schemes and entitlements.

There should be efforts to provide free legal service to the victim and survivors and ensure justice. Member of State Women Commission Ms. Snehanjali Mohanty said the commission will take up the cases of witch branding as violation of women’s rights. Sashiprava Bindhani, State Information Commissioner, Odisha State RTI Commission held the view that the law should be easily accessible to people.