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Kashmiri Women Stand For ‘Peace’?

By Inshah Malik

03 October, 2011

Wars are constructed as a ‘Masculine’ concept where in only men are interested. Whatever women have done as warriors or ideologues or revolutionaries seems to be a deviation or aberration from the ‘norm’. The recognition of norm which is ‘War is Masculine’ is coming from none other than the women who challenge the norms of patriarchy. Feminists believe that ‘women’ are the enormous populaces who get crushed are helpless when there is a conflict between two ‘armed masculinities’. Therefore the one stop solution of the problem is ‘if there is a conflict women must ‘Build Peace’. The idea we are entering is not women are peaceful or women ignore the conflict and stay peaceful but “women build peace”. As can be pointed out by even a non intellectual movement ‘all women are not peaceful’ or thinking women to be peaceful alone is another essentialist argument that needs to be condemned.

What is peace building? When questioned about the process, an Indian feminist’s response is “please do not think it is a situation where women are standing with a white flag” but it is a very political process. Although she did not explain how it was a political process, we are here amidst the Kashmir conflict left to wonder.

Being peaceful is a virtue and we all struggle to attain peace through out our lives. In a ravaging conflict situation, peace has many meanings, for some it is the absence of the conflict, for many it is to be able to live in their dwellings without much worry of outer space and for most it is the ultimate resolution of the conflict. In this imagination, resolution of the conflict comes across as a situation which would leave way for others to have their understanding of peace eventually. Women in traditional societies, see the need of peace in the place where they struggle which most often is the dwelling. They strive hard to maintain an amiable living condition inside the house while completely ignoring the outer conflict. Emancipated women in traditional societies are the ones who are ‘political’ who believe in achieving peace in the society by nonconformist standpoints fetch for their localities whatever they need without have to realize their right’s independent of the community. But their rights as embedded as much are the rights of non-warring men, children and old aged.

In Kununposhpora, Bakhiti is a local activist who fought with the army personals to save women of her village from ‘sexual assaults’ and the men from the ‘physical beating’. Not only did women run to her even men never shied away from taking her help and governance as a local leader.

At the level of armed struggle, women if convinced about the struggle that would get the peace they have visualized women have taken part in the armed struggle as well. The LTTE in Srilanka or the Palestinian women in the Intifada movement are important examples.

But here the question is ‘peace building’ as a political process. The women of the ‘oppressor community’ want to create women’s ‘peaceful groups’ in a community which is oppressed.

Women of oppressor’s have easy access to the women of the oppressed community, since when women of oppressed community are discouraged from being political who is benefiting from this association? Where patriarchy is breathing its last when the oppressed community’s men are ‘Emasculated’, indeed ‘peace building’ is a very political process for oppressors. Women should not take part in the protests of the oppressed because their men oppress them? Then why should Indian feminists feed into the back channel of its masculine army? Why should this distinction fall as void or invalid?

The Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) in collaboration with Srinagar based NGO—Women for Peace (WFP)—organized the conference titled—Women’s Roles in Society: Issues of Mutual Concern. In Kashmir valley where Indian feminists are raising the slogans in the name of women are doing an oppressed community more harm than good. Kashmiri woman prefers her helpless oppressed man that the backchannel of her husband’s oppressor. In these peace groups seldom is the patriarchal and communal out lash of the oppressors acknowledged or evaluated.

When asked about her son’s death, Maugel says “My husband and my two sons were martyred while fighting the Indian Rule. I am 70 years old now, have no energy in my ailing bones, but if I had (I swear by God) I would give the last inch of it for my people to be relieved of a tyranny’

Women visualize peace in much different way than the ones in the seminars. Peace for Zainab who lives in front of the army camp and her daughters move through the surveillance of army and have to hear sexual remarks as usual, is nothing but “AZADI”

Inshah Malik is scholar from Tata Institute of Social Sciences



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