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Chhutni Mahato From Jharkhand Just Received A Padma Shree For Saving 125 Women From Being Witch-Hunted.

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I have said this before and I will say it again. India is a lot of things but it’s also extremely unsafe for women. And it’s only getting worse. Turn a blind eye all you want but in our country, women are blamed for the smallest inconveniences and the largest catastrophes. In fact, a lot of women are blamed to such a point that the society around her labels her a witch. Sometimes it feels like we live in 16th century Salem because there are actual witch-trials taking place in states like Jharkhand. Women have gotten thrashed, raped and literally beheaded. However, today we are talking about an inspirational woman who has dedicated her life to saving women from this nightmarish reality. She has just been awarded a Padma Shree for all her contributions and we couldn’t be more awe-struck of her story. 

62-year-old Chhutni Mahato from Jharkhand has rescued over a hundred women who were accused of practising witchcraft and tortured. 25 years ago, she too was branded a witch. She survived a rape and murder attempt. Since then she has devoted her life to helping other women who are going through the same thing she was put through. For all her outstanding work, she has been awarded a Padma Shree. 

Talking about all her work and the Padma Shree, Chhutni Mahato said, “Congratulations to all for it would not have been possible for me alone to save and rescue 125 people mostly women from getting killed on charges of witchcraft and partially rehabilitate them to live normal lives. I never even dreamt of getting such an honour in my life as only celebrities and film stars used to get such an award. I thank Narendra Modi for finding people like me from the remotest corners of the country for such national honour.” 

Also Read: This Woman From Jharkhand Was Beaten To Death After Being Accused Of Practising Witchcraft. This Is Messed Up

She also said that this recognition of her efforts has only made her want to fight harder against this practice of deeming women as witches. Chhutni Mahato’s own story is heartbreaking. In 1978, when she was merely 13 years old and studying in the third grade, she was married off. In 1995, after a little girl in the neighbourhood fell sick, a few of her neighbours tried to rape her and accused her of being a witch and practising black magic. The Panchayat back then made her pay a Rs 500 fine. Six months later, they attempted to murder her and that’s when she decided to flee. 

Chhutni Mahato landed up at a lawmakers house asking for help and shelter but there was avail. Even the police demanded Rs 10,000 to lodge an FIR. Finally, bureaucrat Nidhi Khare helped her out by directing her to an NGO that was working towards eradicating the witch-hunting practice in Jharkhand. After some help by a deputy commissioner, she set up her own practice that works towards saving women from these witch-trials. Until now she has done mind-blowing work and rescued 125 women from this horror. This woman deserves multiple standing ovations for all her work. 

She said, “The then West Singhbhum deputy commissioner Amir Khare helped me set up anti-witch-hunting consultation centre, which has so far saved 125 so-called witches.” 

As glad as I am that her efforts are being recognized and she was awarded a Padma Shree, I can’t help but hope that we had more women like her. Her courage and perseverance are truly inspiring.

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