Title of MQM study "They use
us, others abuse us" puts in nutshell the position of women
as victims. Agitation in Kashmir started with women organising
demonstrations with slogans such as, Marde mujahid jag zara
abb, vakt shahadat aya hai. This challenged the manliness of
male holy warriors. They were to lead and women were only to
obey and follow. When armed conflict started, it was the male
mujahid who was idolised among young girls in family gatherings.
He was given shelter and fed. He was given out as a son-in-law
when law enforcers questioned his presence in the family. Time
came when he started claiming this relationship as a fact which
had to be conceded. This came to be symbolised as honour for the
fathers got advantage at the cost of the girl. During searches
women came out in the streets to bar the entry of police in the
locality. They also misdirected the police so as to facilitate
the escape of the mujahid. They had to bear the lathis,
bullets and torture. Torture and rape to subjugate, to
humiliate, to terrorise, to extract information and for revenge
became common. Mercifully, it was not resorted to change the
ethnic complexion. A raped woman has also to bear the life long
disability vis-a-vis the husband, the father, the brother and
the son. Husbands distance themselves to keep their honour
intact. Sons wanted to go out to seek revenge. The father and
brother first want to marry off the daughter pre-puberty to
escape the chance of rape of an unmarried daughter. Such a
daughter is sought to be disposed off to the first available man
howsoever deprived he may be. Leaders of the movement followers
to marry such girls there is exhat humiliation for the victim.
She has no voice. She is repeatedly paraded before the media as
proof of oppression and forced to repeat the narration to the
police on the one side and various human rights activists on the
other. Even that does not complete the story. This is common to
all the six studies. The situation worsened when foreigners
joined and took over the struggle. They became the perpetrators
without an iota of social accountability.
Identity in all
these agitations is patriarchic identity. Woman is an instrument
only. Her glory is in supplying the sons and brothers as gun
fodder. She has to be the flag bearer of religious virtuosity.
She has to take to purdah again. She has to confine
herself to home, to do prayers, carry out rituals, limit
education to religious and moral texts and most important of
all, ensure racial purity. Sri Lanka, Nepal and North-East
conflicts have both sexes taking to arms but the punishment for
any sexual waywardness has to be borne by the woman. She is the
one to be disarmed and exiled, may be with a justification for
confinement. She is supposed to be the seducer and she is the
one to be disfigured. Studies also find that the
dejected/defeated/depressed male mujahid/freedom fighter turns
his violence against the wife, sister or mother. The truth of
national identity is written only on the body of the woman.
And what is
there for her in the struggle for identity/nationhood or the
revolution? The common refrain everywhere is that the issue
shall be considered later. The time of struggle/revolution is
not the time to talk of women’s issues and rights.
The real value
of the study lies in understanding larger problems for women in
these agitations. Firstly, any armed struggle for identity has
been essentially male chauvinistic, never benefiting the woman.
It has generally been cultural and religious. Secondly, in spite
of element of commodification of labour and woman, capitalism in
its mature stage has been the most liberating system for women
when remembering communist states of the last century. This
system does provide space to woman as subject allowing for a
choice in the market. Such societies have done more for women’s
emancipation. Thirdly, gender has not been able to establish as
an identity for effective action while dominated by the
bourgeois leadership. It also cannot do without such leadership
at this stage of development of these societies. Therefore, a
long peaceful process of conscientisation seems to be necessary.
concept of rape has to be redefined. It has to be de-linked from
the honour of the man. Its characterisation has to be
essentially with the body of the woman.
And last but most important, a
violent movement cannot benefit the woman. It can only be
oppressive to women. Violence can never be ennobling whether
supported by Franz Fanon or by Osama bin Laden.