According to our constitution, it a fundamental duty of all citizens `to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform,‘ `to abjure violence,‘ and `to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.’ The constitution also guarantees `liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.’ Enacting the law will advance these goals of our constitution in very significant ways.
It is important to understand the nature of conflict at hand.
It is not a struggle between religion and science.
It is a struggle between reason and ignorance exploited by vested interests.
What the bill is about:
The bill was drafted with the help eminent jurists including the former chief justice of Mumbai High court Chandrasekhar Dharmadhikari and the former Supreme Court justice P. B. Savant. It bans twelve practices classified as `black magic,’ including human sacrifices and aghori practices.
- Other practices banned include declaring women as witches (“dakin”) and causing physical harm to them, claiming to perform surgery with just fingers, changing the sex of a foetus in the womb, preventing people from taking medical treatment against dog or snake bites and offering them magical remedies instead.
- The bill seeks to prevent sexual exploitation done under the guise of special supernatural powers or claims of reincarnation.
The bill is about ending fraudulent and exploitative practices which are not adequately covered under the Indian Penal Code.
What the bill is not about:
- In the entire text there is not a single word about God or Religion.
- It does not affect one’s holding any particular belief as long as it does not cause mental, physical or financial harm to others.
Why it is important:
- It will be a victory of reason over ignorance which is important for our society to grow into the modern nation that we see ourselves to be in this 21st century.
- It will pave the way for a comprehensive and effective national legislation.
- It will help in the emancipation of women who are more often the victims of such practices.
What can I do?:
Only public mobilization can prevent a repeat of 2005 when the bill was blocked and delayed until the term of the assembly.
- An expression of solidarity from the scientific community will send a clear message against this violence that seeks to intimidate the voice of reason.
- You can contribute also as a citizen in the broader campaign `Act Now!’