World Court of Women raises voice against violence

World Court of Women raises voice against violence

City-based women’s rights NGO, Vimochana held the ‘World Court of Women Against War, For Peace’ in association with the Indian branch of Women in Black (WIB), an international movement of women speaking out against violence, in the Mount Carmel College auditorium on Monday.

Women from several countries like Sri Lanka, Iraq, UK, USA, Italy and Palestine participated in the 16th such biennial gathering, on the theme ‘Women Against War and The Wars Against Women.’ Women in Black began as a protest by Israeli and Palestinian women against violence in the region which was destroying their lives. The movement then spread to other countries and women used the platform to talk about their experiences with violence in wars. The Courts organised by WIB are a space for the marginalised to give their testimonies, following which a jury gives their insights and analyses.

The court sessions were opened with a vibrant tribal drum performance, following which the panelists lit the lamp. Inaugurating the event, Corrine Kumar, the head of Women in Black India, said, “We live in violent times in which our collective memories are dying. There is an urgent need to challenge the dominant logic and subvert patriarchy.”

The Court had sessions on ‘Wars as genocide,’ ‘Wars without borders,’ ‘Wars against civilisations,’ ‘Wars against women,’ ‘Gathering of spirit’ and was concluded with insights by the eight-member jury, comprising Italian member of the European Parliament and founder of WIB’s Italian branch, Luisa Morgantini, feminist activist, Kamla Bhasin, advisor to the Naga Mothers Association (NMA), Rose Dzuvichu and others.

Eman Khammas, former Iraqi journalist and professor, expressed her compassion for refugees travelling from the Middle East to Europe. She recalls, “After fleeing to Europe from Iraq, I had to restart my life at the age of 50. I got a teaching job which paid me one Euro per hour. This caused me, with my PhD and several degrees, to lose my self-esteem and identity.”

Each session had an expert witness providing their view. Shiv Vishwanathan, a notable columnist and social anthropologist, was the expert for the session on genocides. He discussed the less-talked about form of bloodless genocide prevailing in democratic countries like India.

In the name of development, dams and roads are built, displacing millions and destroying traditions. “Development has become a way to forget the riots in Gujarat,” he said.

Closer home, Tasneem from Kashmir gave her testimony on how the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir has damaged the social and cultural fabric of the society.

The conflict has affected people psychologically with increased instances of depression, PTSD, substance abuse and suicidal tendencies. Making a plea, she said, “We need to reconstruct this shattered valley into the paradise it used to be.”

Video testimonies
Video testimonies were given by women from around the world in which they recounted horrific instances of imprisonment, rape and torture.

 In a haunting clip, Veneranda from Rwanda, affected by the genocide and ethnic cleansing in her country, observed, “Around the world, 90 per cent of the decisions to buy arms, wage wars and cause destruction are taken by men while 80 per cent of the resources in the world are produced by women.”

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