Police may book Radhe Maa under black magic Act
If Sukhwinder Kaur, who goes by the moniker 'Radhe Ma', is booked by the Mumbai police under the anti-superstition and black magic Act - something they are contemplating - she would be one of the few women to be booked under the Act.
Since August 2013, when the Act came into being in Maharashtra, 150 cases have been filed under this law. Of these, only 25 per cent of those who were booked were women.
The police claimed that more often than not women had been the primary victims in cases filed under this Act. "In a majority of cases registered under the Act so far, the theme of women exploitation had been writ large with activists pegging the proportion of such cases at 60 to 70 per cent," said Hamid Dabholkar, secretary of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS).
Dabholkar is the son of late Narendra Dabholkar, whose dogged pursuance for an anti-black magic Act and whose subsequent murder led Maharashtra to become the first state in the country to enact an anti-superstition Act called The Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act 2013.
Dabholkar claimed that most women approached 'godmen' in case they were unable to conceive or if they wanted a male child. Activists have pointed out that vulnerable women ended up trusting self-proclaimed godmen. They also said that these women were more prone to be sexually exploited by godmen.
"Once a woman approaches a 'godman', he has sexual intercourse with her claiming to possess divine powers.
However, even if the woman conceives, the harassment does not end. The baba keeps blackmailing and exploiting her for the rest of her life," said Shyam Manav, founder, All India Andha-shraddha Nirmoolan Samitee.
As part of an initiative to train police personnel across the state about how and when these laws were applicable, Manav held workshops in the city recently.
Avinash Patil, chairman of MANS, said that apart from claiming to help with having a child, these 'godmen' also exploited women whose families wanted a male child.
DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni said, " Most of these women are pressured by their families to go to these 'godmen'."