SOUTH ASIA: Impact of Conflict on Women…Breaking the Silence

Monday, October 31, 2011
The Morung Express
Southern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Nagaland State Women Commission Chairperson Sano Vamuzo has said that the impact of conflict on women has become a huge topic particularly in the conflict-ridden regions of the world, and the northeast has in recent years become a focal point for research and study from various angles. She was speaking during the programme “Bearing witness: The impact of conflict on women in Nagaland and Assam” organized by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (C-nes) with the support of Heinrich Boll Foundation held here at the Red Cross Conference Hall. Complimenting the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research for the initiative, she said “Your work has shed light on a very crucial issue that has remained in the dark for so long.” She said for so long, stories of Nagas and their political struggle had been silenced, and many, who have undergone tremendous experiences over the past six decades, have died with their stories untold. “This is a shame and a huge loss for those coming after them, as it means the loss of information about the past which we need to know in order to better understand our present circumstances. However, it is encouraging to see that over the past couple of decades, the stories have gradually begun to emerge and to be documented,” the chairperson said.

She said the Nagaland State women commission was dealing with a wide range of issues pertaining to women with the major issues like domestic violence, trafficking of women and children, rape, molestation etc. She also stated every Naga village and every Naga family has a story to tell because the political struggle has not left one family unaffected. “The effects of world War II have been intolerable as they have not only traumatized women and homes, but have carried on into the Naga struggle for freedom, which saw thousands of our men dead, our homes and granaries burnt to the ground time after time and our women raped, abused, and killed, completely losing their rights to protection and security”.

In the present scenario, Sano added that Naga women have been experiencing new trends of conflict in the society and the concern over the alarming rise in crimes against women. “We call for valuable wisdom and insights in order to curb this menace that threatens that very fabric of our society.” In this regard, Sano mentioned that the widespread prevalence of domestic violence was a reflection of deep- rooted gender imbalance in the state. She said that education of women in knowing their legal rights will go along way to curb atrocities against women. Earlier, screening of the film “A Measure of Impunity” was introduced by Maulee Senapati while Kausiki Sarma briefed on the photo exhibition. Dr. Buno Legiese, head, department of Education, Nagaland University delivered welcome address while Charles Chasie chaired the function. Prof.Sanjoy Hazarika, project director highlighted the account of the C-nes and the study report. The two day event will continue till October 29 with film screening at 1:00 PM while photo exhibition will start at 11:00 AM till 5:00 PM. It may be mentioned that the study report, screening of film and photo exhibition on “Bearing witness: The impact of conflict on women in Nagaland and Assam” is aimed at documenting the impact of conflict on women in two states of Nagaland and Assam. The project seeks to place these issues in the larger context of the challenges of nation building, regional growth and also look at broader issues of just laws, the use of state power and the rights of citizens especially women.

The project is built around the assumption that women have been particularly and severely affected by ongoing civil conflicts in the two states as indeed in much of the north east region of India.
Sanjoy Hazarika is the managing trustee of the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research which he found in 2000, which works extensively on governance issues especially health and education delivery. The research team from Nagaland includes Charles Chasie, Dr. Buno Liegise and Dr. Lungsang Zeliang. From Assam- Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman and Riturekha Baruah.