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Women In Conflict Zones

By Ravi Nitesh

20 March, 2013

Governments and organizations were filled with trepidation when they observed International Women Day this year, they made it vindicated that realization of root cause of problems that is uncivilized minds, descriminatory behavior of a person/organization/law must be criticized but sadly, their celebrations are still lacking the demand for same status and equality for women in conflict zones.

The official statement of UN on International Women’s Day included the name of the Delhi gang raped victim. USA had also honored her with the posthumous bravery award. The Government of India had also announced a special fund in the budget. They all seem so sensitive and dedicated towards the safety of women. We must congratulate them. We must congratulate UN and USA for its concern for the safety of women in India but what about the innumerable women who are abused by the state forces and army in the conflict zones. Though, it must be recognized that UN has at least mentioned them in its official statement for International Women Day that reads "We also make a special promise to women in conflict situations, where sexual violence too often becomes a tool of war aimed at humiliating the enemy by destroying their dignity. To those women we say: the United Nations stands with you. As Secretary-General, I insist that the welfare of all victims of sexual violence in conflict must be at the forefront of our activities. And I instruct my senior advisers to make our response to sexual violence a priority in all of our peace-making, peacekeeping and peace-building activities. ”

But what about the Government of India (GoI)? We must congratulate GoI for the fund in the name of Delhi gang rape victim but what about the abused women in J&K, Manipur,Chattisgarh and other conflict zones? Are they not important? Are their sufferings any less? Or is it just another political gimmick?

We all know about Asiya & Nilofar who were gang-raped during their way back home in Shopian in the state of Jammu & Kashmir; we know about Soni Sori who is still in jail and police tortured her and inserted stones in her vagina, we know about Manorama Devi who was gang-raped and then killed in Manipur by Assam Rifles. We know that bullets were shot at the vagina for destroying evidence. We also know about the horrible Kunan Poshpora incident of Jammu & Kashmir where in 1991, approx 53 women (aged between 13 to 80 years) were raped. We know the incident of Langjing village of Manipur where many women were raped in front of their helpless handcuffed village men and about the pregnant woman who was killed in front of everyone. Unfortunately, all these rapists were shielded by the draconian law of Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFSPA.

But maybe the Government doesn’t think of them as serious crimes. They don’t think of them as serious enough to be even recognized. Nothing has ever been announced for these victims.

India celebrates the International Women’s Day but for which women, it needs to mention. Even on an international front, USA must be more concerned about the crimes in its own country where 2.5 Lakh women are raped/sexually assaulted every year. It also must be concerned over the incidents of rapes and sexual assaults by its own security personals. Treating everybody as a human being and an unbiased and uniform investigation is the only remedy that can bring a check on crime against women. It will also assure equality before law and prevent any accused to go without punishment; to not enjoy impunity just because he belongs to the security forces. Sadly, in spite of findings by committees and independentinvestigating officers and human rights organizations, GoI has not started any trial yet and no security personal jailed till date. And unless this happens, there can’t really be any Women’s day.

I shall conclude with the suicide note of Chanu Rose, (from a book AFSPA: A manipur experience , published by CPDM) aTangkhul woman of Ngaprum Khullen village in Ukhrul district who was gang raped in the night of 4 March 1974 by Major Pundir and Captain Nag of the 95 BSF. She had written this letter to her boyfriend. This letter has been translated from Manipuri to English. I shall conclude with this letter to tell you that she was an ordinary woman, with emotions and dreams of a beautiful life with her lover, like many of us have but she suffered to “uphold” the integrity of the nation.

“Most beloved…

In a world seeded with envy, our love shall never bloom together like those lovely flowers in the same stalk but we will bloom radiantly in that pure everlasting place of our true love. That I am leaving this world should not bereaved you to utter melancholy. A life driven by gale of sorrow and unrequited words mortify my soul and leave me to choose only this lone way. For the days to come, we made promises to be one and together in our lifelong journey. But oh! My love I could notmade for thatmoment! Oh! My life none is there to receive your lot.

What a pity! Oh! My vanquished soul every second bear the brunt of bereaved feelings,bringing me to the threshold of defeat. Even the tears which flow like an eternal spring nowdries up. Those tears were the only image of my life. I will be remembering in those looming darkness of hell the tale of you and I. From dust to dust let this body embrace its birthplace; let the earthdissolves my remains. Oh! How enviable for that last glance, to see onelast time of my image in your eyes, but alas! Fate deceives me at this last hour. I choose my own disgraceful death and lo! I will walk as an outcast forever. My love when you remembers me, turn your eyes to those darkest horizon for I reside forever in the abyss of darkness. There, you will find me treading all alone with a heavy sigh of regrets in that long darkness.

Love of my life! Feeling of sweet remembrance of those long hearty laughs and sharing each other woes fills my memory. At the dead of this night, far from here my love a deep slumber will be taking you to pleasant dreams. My last wish to see your visage shall ever remain unfulfilled as you are far from me… far across these ranges of hills.

For my lovely friends, though I am unable to write each a parting letter I plead to you to tell them my last farewell. In this early morning, I am glancing over the distance of your lovely place Bungpa. Remember, my love how I wish to shower all my feelings and love, all I have for you like a cascade flowing down in your ocean of love. Have you ever received the letter I sent to you on 6-2-73? What could have happened for not returning any reply from your side? I have waited long and I am still waiting, but at the moment life steals away stealthily. Why and how did we ever get parted will only be known after you escape from this world. Oh Hell! Oh! Abyss of Darkness! I loathe going that dark passage. No one shall ever know who betrays whom. The secret is entombed forever.

The life of a maiden dries up from blooming into a lovely flower and lays in the heathen… unadorned, unaccepted, untouched. Only regrets on my part for I am choke with words which I unable to tell you everything at this moment. What remains of the sad tale I will narrate to you closely inanotherlifetime, in another eternity. I will end with this note my love! That the only words that erupt from the truest, innermost part of me is the saddest part of our parting, the story of our failure to be together again.

Your Rose.”

Ravi Nitesh is founder of Mission Bharatiyma www.missionbharatiyam.org




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