Anti-Maoist Campaign By Women
By Kamala Sarup
For the first time since the insurgency started, a women-led anti-Maoist uprising has spread across Dailekh and in Baglung and some part of the country. The villages have mostly women, young children and the elderly because the men have all fled. More than 20,000 people joined the protests in Dullu and thausands of women women joined in Baglung.The rebel threat to take away young sons and daughters appear to have been the main reason the women spearheaded protests in Dullu, Salleri Baglung and other part of the districts as well. local women and citizens has started to organise protests since a month ago. Women from 13 VDCs in the area have been organising small village gatherings in open defiance of the Maoists since 9 November in Dullu.
In Kathmandu on Thursday, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said Dailekhis would be protected and announced a Rs 30 million aid package. Thousands marched in Baglung Saturday also against the Maoists for their extremely inhumane behavior against the villagers, mostly women.
“Down with Maoism,” “Down with Prachanda.” the demonstrators shouted at a big rally in Dullu and in Baglung. "At first, they came to our houses asking for food, which we gave them. Later, they started beating and killing us. How long can we tolerate this?" a woman taking part in the rally asked angrily.The Maoists brutally tortured a dozen men and women, including a six-month pregnant woman on Monday night, leading to a string of anti-Maoists protests in the west of Baglung district.
"All the Nepalese have really been impressed by the courage of the people of Dailekh, who have now decided that enough is enough. The rally that they organised on their own was really impressive. They have shown the way for all Nepalese". a 16 years Sunamaya Karki says. A local women says she and others in her village had complied fearing they would be killed: “When they said every family had to give one son, that is when I lost all my fear. We told them, kill us but you can’t take our sons. We had nothing left to give them, we couldn’t take it any longer.”
"By disrupting normal economic activity and destroying bases of economic support, armed conflict also puts women at risk for trafficking and at greater risk for having to engage in survival sex or sexual bartering, through which many women are becoming infected with HIV. In addition, women faced rampant violence and discrimination in conflict lives. Rape and sexual assault against women are all too common in conflict situations in Nepal". A women activist Puja Budhathoki stated.
Home Minister made a speech, “We fully support the people’s uprising,.” An army base has been set up in Dullu to prevent Maoist attacks. According to reports, there has been a massive exodus of youth from Dolpa, a flow triggered by what has been described as Maoist terror. Hundreds of women participate in a campaign launched against Maoist atrocities by People’s Front Nepal in Baglung district on Saturday. Women from 16 different villages took part in the programme.
"If we want to see these women move further in local level politics, they need training and support programs to develop their self-esteem, potential, and economic power. With this type of capacity-building, women will have the financial ability and self-confidence to pursue politics supportive of women. In Nepal, women have participated in any political process but they have remained only as a vote bank. The majority of women remain outside the decision-making process in all levels". Puja further says.
"Grassroots women need capacity-building support. The vital point, which is too often ignored, is that the needed support system and programs that allow women to make decisions and economic transactions themselves are severely lacking". Chiranjibe says.
Kishor Nepal has stated in his writings "The Dailekh rebellion will spread across the country if the Maoists do not apologise. The mass protests are staged with very good intentions and both the state and the rebels should create an environment where the people can breathe in peace. If injustice against the people continues, mass fury will not be contained.
Anti-Maoist uprising in Dailekh owes much to the women who did what the men did not have the courage to do. To rebel against the Maoists is not easy but such was the desperation of the mothers, who though illiterate, rose up to protest. When politicians feared going to villages, teachers fled, schools closed down and men migrated, the women defied the gun".
Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML supporters also took part in the campaign but they bemoaned the lack of backing from their leadership in Kathmandu. "We are taking part in this rally because we are also troubled by the Maoists," They said. "This campaign will definitely teach a lesson to the Maoists," said Leela. "But we are sad that NC and UML leaders in Kathmandu are keeping quiet even when Maoists continue to terrorize their cadres in the villages." they argued.
Gender analysis shows that women are greatly affected by armed conflict and conflict arises for many reasons: political, economic and psychological, religious, ethnic or other kinds of intolerance, socio-economic despair, injustice and oppression. In Nepal, the opportunities for women to exchange views and forge a common policy against violence is minimal even women are often the main victims in situations of conflict, suffering human rights abuses.
(Kamala Sarup is editor to Peace Media http://peacejournalism.com/)