Manipuri women set the tone to push for demands

Manipuri women set the tone to push for demands

 Ema Nandidevi was one among the 30 middle aged women, who had stripped themselves naked in front of Assam Rifles bastion of the Indian Army in Manipur and had screamed at the army men to rape them, in one of the most extraordinary protests. They were protesting the rape of a woman, who was detained by Assam Rifles and was later found dead in mysterious circumstances.

Participating at a State level Women’s Day celebrations organised by Karnataka Mahila Dourjanya Virodhi Okkoota, in the city on Saturday, she spoke on the history of Women’s Wars in Manipur and the brutalities being meted to the civilians of Manipur in general owing to the implementation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the State.

She said that women in Manipur had to face several hardships, as successive administrations, ranging from the British Raj to the Government of India continued to subjugate the people of the State.

Women’s Wars

She said that women in the State had raised up in arms in the two ‘Womens Wars’. In the First Women’s War in 1904, the British government forced the men of Manipur into bonded labour, resulting in women taking to the streets in protest. The Second Women’s War was a result of artificial scarcity of rice in Manipur. “The Third Women’s War began with the implementation of AFSPA in the State. In the meanwhile, torturable atrocities against women has increased,” she said.

Speaking about the 2004 rape incident, which provoked the naked protests, in descriptive detail, she said that both men and women were victims of the draconian law, which has been enforced in Manipur for the past five decades.

The other two activists from Manipur who participated in the programme were Renu Baladevi of the Extra Judicial Execution Victims Association and Chitra Ahentum, a human rights advocate and associate editor of Free Press Imphal.

Vote bank

Sabiha Bhoomigowda, professor at Mangalore University said that though there was strength in numbers in a democracy, women have not been considered as a vote bank, despite comprising  half the nation’s population.

Therefore, rise in political awareness and demand for appropriate political representation in elected bodies have to be put forth with fervor, she said.
Criticising the fundamentalism of religions, as it went against the interest of women, she called for women to oppose fundamentalism, as it encouraged inequality between men and women.

Prior to the public meeting at Exhibition Grounds in the city, women organisations and activists from different parts of the State took out a rally from Ramaswamy Circle in the city. Slogans were raised against the practices of dowry, female foeticide and domestic abuse.

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