JALUKBARI, Oct 28 - Social activist Birubala Rabha, known for her relentless battle against the evil practice of witch-hunting, was on Saturday awarded the Women�s World Summit Foundation (WWSF) prize for women�s creativity in rural life for the year 2018.
Xavier�s Foundation in association with Gauhati University handed over a certificate to Rabha at a ceremony held at the Phanidhar Dutta Seminar Hall. The award has been instituted by WWSF-Women�s World Summit Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland. Rabha also received a cash prize of $1,000.
Speaking on the occasion Rabha said, �It is a very prestigious moment for me to receive this prize given by a UN organisation in recognition of my decades-long crusade against witch-hunting and superstition, which I have fought even at the cost of my life to save many people. It is indeed very sad that in this age of technological advancement, social evils like witch-hunting still exist in the country, especially in remote areas.�
�The main reasons for branding women as witches are lack of education and quality health services. Education is the best tool to fight against this social menace,� she said, appealing to the people of Assam not to go to quacks or deodhanis as they are not doctors.
The 69-year-old, who has received numerous awards, is well known across Assam, especially in her district Goalpara, for her fight against witch-hunting and other superstitions. She has saved a number of women from becoming victims of witch-hunting.
Dr Dinesh Chandra Goswami, who was the guest of honour, said, �We need innovative techniques to overcome this social evil. Mass psychological change of mindset is the need of the hour. Instead of believing what others do and say, start questioning. Mass awareness is a must and most importantly, police personnel need to become aware of this social menace.�
Gauhati University Vice Chancellor Dr Mridul Hazarika said, �The problem of witch-hunting is a 14th century problem which is prevalent all over the world. But the problem can be solved regionally, geographically and by sensitizing the ignorant communities. Lack of education, health and transport are some major issues that need to be addressed to eradicate this menace.�
He said that the university fraternity needs to go out and conduct outreach programmes to enlighten the ignorant people, and being confined within the boundary walls of the university and talking about progress of the society cannot itself bring progress.
Assam Police Special DGP Pallav Bhattacharya, who was the chief guest, said, �To be successful like Birubala Rabha, another Birubala Rabha should come up in all communities to prevent this social evil. Just creating awareness among ourselves won�t solve the problem but creating awareness to the core of the communities is very important to stop this menace. Social outreach programmes should be conducted by institutions of higher learning.�