No evidence is needed to confirm that women are exploited and marginalised in all facets of life: socially, culturally and economically. Discrimination and inequality, which threatens the fabric of civilisation, are reinforced in war as a community is militarised.
Sites of conflict incorporate not only war zones but also areas of internal unrest due to communal riots, environmental disasters and self-determination issues. In India, Jammu and Kashmir, the northeastern states and central India are marked by the presence of insurgents and militant organisations which cause destruction and disorder.
In such battle-torn zones, the impact is staggering on women playing subsidiary roles without any substantial decision-making power. This is further aggravated by issues that are born out of a stereotypical and backward Indian mindset which includes sexual harassment, possible isolation, loss of dignity and identity in times of crisis. The patriarchal ideologies accepted as the foundation of our society have threatened the human rights of women who are rendered without land, homes, inheritance, social assistance and pensions in case of calamities of any kind.
The worst, however, is the fate of widows and half widows. These women are left without any source of income, bread and shelter. “The Indian government does not provide any relief to half widows before the expiry of seven years from the date of disappearance of their husbands,” states Saeed Ur Rehman Siddiqui. The cruelty of these women’s conditions surfaces again as the government refuses to provide any reliable solutions to their issues. However, many voices have echoed across the length of our country in support of them.
The Control Arms Foundation of India (CAFI) founder, Binalakshmi Nepram emphasises the need of support for women, “Unless you recognise that such crimes are regularly happening, it is not easy to bring relief and rehabilitation to victims.” Nepram’s organisation has been relentlessly working in micro-disarmament of arms in north east by connecting and empowering women affected by conflict.
There are no specific legislation or rules applicable to the situation of people living in conflict areas, due to the possibility of controversies and even more bloodshed. Women suffer the most due to this, since they are considered a soft target by the opposing parties, and often tortured.
The renowned women’s rights activist, Anuradha M. Chenoy explains that a majority of women are insecure because of their meagre earnings and dependency on others. Long term psychological trauma is the most likely result of staying in such a situation. No human being deserves such treatment. As citizens of a democratic country, they are entitled to peace, harmony and accord.
The women of our nation aspire to be free, not only from the dictatorship of men but also from the clutches of conflict. They should not live in fear of being clamped down and of being executed by the hands of injustice. Rather, they should hold their heads high as they move onto break barriers and find the roads to eminence and illustriousness.