12 December2016: No one should see what Suman Nepali saw last Tuesday. The 10 year old schooolboy witnessed his mother being publicly flogged, forced to eat human faeces and then attacked again. By Friday morning, his mother was gone.
Her villagers accused Laxmi Nepali of being a witch.
Unfortunately, this is not a one off incident in Nepal. Many Nepali women from the so-called “low castes” have been accused of being witch often leading to degrading, vicious physical attacks on them and cold-blooded murder.
What sets apart last Tuesday’s attack, however, is the fact that the one who perpetrated the barbaric act was none other the “social studies teacher” of the victim’s ten year old son.
In other words, the one who should have been teaching school kids, including those from the so-called “higher castes”, to treat all human beings with equal respect and dignity was the one who taught them to be racist and merciless abuser of human rights.
Hira Lama, the murderous teacher in question, and his mother attacked Suman Nepali’s mother right in front of his eyes and other spectators, reported Nepali-language daily Annapurna Post.
According to Suman’s police statement (based on which a number of media outlets ran reports on Sunday), the teacher and his mother were waiting for them around 5 pm on Tuesday. They began attacking her the moment they saw the helpless mother as she was heading home from her work on a villager’s farm. They reportedly tied her to a pole, beat her up and forced her to human waste. None in that Kavre district village came forward to stop the attack and rescue the woman indicating just how deeply entrenched the caste-system and superstition is in Nepal.
Once the attackers were satisfied with the torture, they let her go. She gathered her two children and began walking home. Suman’s mother would have probably survived, even after that vicious attack, if not for the monstrosity of the teacher who caught up with her for a second time and unleashed another vicious attack. This time only more viciously, repeatedly hitting her head with a piece of wood and freely kicking her on the chest.
As they lived three hours walk from the nearest town of Dhulikhel, Laxmi Nepali could not be brought to hospital on time and subsequently died Friday morning.
The teacher is in police custody, reports said.
Interestingly, the husband of the deceased (father of Suman Nepali) is also in police custody for unknown reasons.
The Witchcraft Act which was endorsed in the parliament in August 2015 aimed to minimise violence borne out of witchcraft accusations against women. According to the Act, a person found guilty of assaulting women on charge of witchcraft could face a jail term of five to ten years and a fine of Rs 50,000.
The Act clearly has not deterred racial and superstitious attacks on women.