Here Is What I Am Saying To The Indian Feminists
On Conflict And Feminist Movement’s Response
By Inshah Malik
07 October, 2011
…in continuation with “Kashmiri women stand for peace?” published in countercurrents.org earlier that has evoked a huge response from the feminists in India. (FeministsIndia) is a group where the discussions took place. This publication here is purely for Kashmiri readers who are generally away from such intellectual encounters and also for those feminists who chose to give me ‘names’ rather than engage in a debate like (feministsIndia group)
I shall begin by saying that “one’s political stand should be immaterial when we are talking from the perspective of people’s lives”. The piece that has brought responses from champion feminists in this forum is actually getting more than necessary attention but yes it is resonating different ideological position that must not be covered in as a monolith. And a commonality that I may share with all of other respected people here is “I am serious about women’s rights”. Take my case for example, “I am also serious about Kashmir’s freedom” like the name of this forum itself. (Feminists (INDIA)) very well it may just mean to locate a geographic distinctiveness in ‘thought and action’, but it is very much there. Although there are some who despite the phrase that feminists in national conflicts have used “a woman has no nation”, begin their sentences by saying, As a Srilankan or Indian or etc...(Read this as a backgrounder)
In a very precise way if I say how do I see “peace-building” or conflict transformation? I will show my dear friends a formula that goes as under
In an “occupational situation” like of Kashmir; where one must understand the framework of oppressor and oppressed and the ‘backchannel ‘which is actually a way of avoiding “people’s right to self determination” needs to be recognized. Peace (I am not going into discussing good peace and bad peace) simply as ‘peace’ being used by power bearers to further oppress and alienate.
What the wonder is “feminism which is such a radical, separatist and exclusionary philosophy” at least I believe so, which should empower women to ask questions to men in whatever capacity they co-function. Why have feminists in India adopted a framework which the oppressor’s impose? Peace is a framework adopted by all those who are in power to further alienate the people who are fighting and struggling and maintain the status quo.
So we arrive here, feminism and peace building which should have been incompatible by the very nature of its philosophy as against “oppression” are not only mixed up but benefiting from each other. It is women yet again being used by the “men” to get there occupational hegemony in place.
Someone mentioned 1325 of Security Council, like it was the most emancipatory process ever, it was passed by the most patriarchal body in the world which is the UN (please do read western feminists on UN and its organizational structure)
Issue of comparing LTTE and Author Rohini Hensmen’s assertion “Women are used as a cannon fodder” by the LTTE
LTTE, although the question is crucial but I will not call it a fascist group with whatever evidence must be pulled together, since the movement is a process and its actual stories come out decades after the violence has stopped. From Kashmir’s example, JKLF is called a fascist organization by the pundits because of executing pundits, when JKLF was actually killing those who were ‘close to the power’ and there were more Pundits than Muslims who were close to the power.
The idea of “MILITARISM” needs to be recognized which has and can malign movements casually and strategically. Operation of “IKHWAN-Ul-MUSLIMEEN (Indian backed group of terrorists) who when raped women and assaulted them, women thought they were the militants. And I am sure many women continue to believe that till today. So the question “whose patriarchy is functioning underneath”? must be asked.
“Women are used as cannon fodder” by LTTE or “intellectual fodder” to support the oppressors sounds the same to me. In the conflict you are either with oppressed people or with the oppressor. Since Feminism began against oppression of patriarchy, it must stand against all sorts of oppressions. Than people like Radha Kumar who is a face of feminism in India and comes to Kashmir with the Indian agenda and others who have on their FB forums called me mad and brainless should get some sense here.
Now, if I was an Indian feminist and was sure that India oppressed Kashmiris or Srilankan government the Tamils I would strengthen the movement. Make women’s political participation in movements more robust and strengthen their constitutions. Since conflict in its own way has opened new opportunities in the public sphere for women. Women should be encouraged to lead the movements. Surprisingly, when women have done so, feminists have paid no attention; to such political women from them even their society has drifted their support. That is where corrections and adjustments were needed.
Another issue here is the “MUSLIM WOMAN”, this is when feminism arrives at Silence.
One example is Dukhtarane-i-Millat who stood out as women leading organization but stand largely shunned by everybody since it is believed to be religious or political.
Dukhtarane-i-Millat, did not use Burkha as a ‘protest’ but as an ‘assault’, a pure anti-patriarchy measure against men from military and local men alike. Unlike the women in Punjab, who were asked to perform self immolation to defend their bodies from pollution? DM encouraged women to fight for their bodies, so as they are not used as sites of national violence, DM was responsible for exposing the sex scandal issue in 2005 which involved all top rank power bearers and military men (Indian and Kashmiri, Muslim or Non Muslim).
Also, the question of totalitarianism in the earlier piece as is pointed out (by prominent writer Rohini Hensmen in a private group) is also exemplified and supported by some references to the data which I have been grappling with and is produced in the earlier article. Please also read Mougli and Bakhti’s assertion in the process. I m not here to ask people to keep their mouth shut, but to understand a response of feminist movement to the voices which are generally either excluded or who choose to stay out of these Peace conferences deliberately.
“If you see oppression (wrong doing), stop it with your hand, if you can’t stop it with your words, if you can’t at least feel bad in your heart, that is the lowest of your faith” (Prophet Muhammad)
Inshah Malik is a Research Scholar at Jawahal Lal Nehru University, New Delhi
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