'Out of many compelling compulsion, I withdrew the FIR after I received an apology letter from the gentleman who raped me'
Source: IT News

Dimapur, May 05 2019: North East Institutes of Social Sciences and Research (NEISSR) and Peace Channel jointly organised a one-day consultative meeting and workshop on 'Gender Peacemaking: Explorations in Performance' in collaboration with O P Jindal Global University (Delhi) on 4th of May 2019 at the NEISSR Assembly Hall, Bishop House, Dimapur.

A select group of leading women and men from diverse field of work and professions including organizational leaders, journalists, rights activists, social workers, etc actively participated in the day-long reflective learning processes.

Fr John Poji, the Vice principal of NEISSR extended warm welcome to the visiting professors from Jindal Global University as resource persons and all the participants to an unfolding journey of co-learning less traversed in Naga society.

The day long programme was designed to bring together noted women leaders from diverse works of life and professions on a platform to share and discuss gender issues and relevance of feminist movement in local women's struggles.

The discussions led to thinking in context specific ways about feminist struggles and histories, and finally exploring possibilities of inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration towards mapping the genealogy of women's resistance in the region and Naga society in particular.

Further the participants expressed their views based of their life traumatic experiences and how they were being victimized in their own families, workplace, and communities being women.

Discussions also brought very contradictory processes of dealing with gender issues in Naga society.

Relating to recent experiences of women having fought elections in the ULB and State Legislative Assembly, participants highlighted how section of women resisted against women's participation in democratic political spaces on one hand and on the other hand how section of educated and aware citizenries of men actively supported women's electioneering campaigns.

Many of the invitees voiced, "In Politics there is no equality in Nagaland.

It is the men only performing, women lagging behind and everything is controlled by men" .

Susan Lotha narrated her struggles of sexually being abused on several accounts during her childhood days.

She narrated her ordeals and mentioned that she was warned not to reveal to anyone that she was raped.

She said she was mocked by the perpetrator who warned her "even if you tell anyone none will believe your story as you are a female" .

She further added that she was sexually abused again when she attained puberty.

She filed an FIR, but due to pressure she had to withdraw it.

She remarked "Out of many compelling compulsions, I withdrew the FIR after I received an apology letter from the gentleman who raped me" .

She lamented, "I got pregnant from that very gentleman who raped me and ended up becoming a single mother; excommunicated from home and relatives I gave birth to a daughter" .

She said "being a single mom, I am not getting ST and indigenous certificate for my daughter".

She decried the patriarchal system and its dominant grip in the society which needs to be followed.

I have proof that the father of my child is a Naga and respectable man in the society who raped me" .

She says "even the judgment of Supreme Court does not provide solace to women in Nagaland.

It is the customary law that prevails out here.

It's the right of my child to possess the ST and Indigenous certificate and it's been severely infringed by customary practises".

Susan Lotha a towering personality had been devoting her days fighting for the rights of the women.

Another female participant spoke "We are far from truth, male and female they say are equal in Nagaland but in reality we are not.

Women needs to come forward in Nagaland.

It is all male and male, we hardly see any females going high, instance are rare" .

One of the male participants cited the recent standoff between Assam Rifles and NSCN IM in Ukhrul district of Manipur where women played a pivotal role to diffuse the tension.

He says "In every armed conflicts, it is the women who plays a pivotal role but they hardly find their names and roles in any of the papers.

Their efforts are never taken into account and acknowledged" .

An elderly female invitee Tokali Chishi, spoke at length on women struggle in Nagaland.

She said "Naga woman still surviving and struggling.

In the Naga national armed Struggle, women had fought side by side with males and they are still fighting" .

On political equation with males in the state, she said "I was not able to cast my vote since the last 20 years but in this recently concluded Lok Sabha Election I was able to cast my vote despite pressures".

She cited several reasons.

She exhorted all the Naga women to come together in order to fight crimes and atrocities at home or in office and it is increasing day by day; women are not provided justice and the struggles for justice keeps on continuing" .

She further said "my state forgot to award me but I was awarded at the national level.

My people forget my efforts at home but at the national level people appreciates my efforts".

She lamented "women are not supporting each other cause.

Naga women need to think ahead and join hands to move ahead.

Media needs to highlight the issues relating to women" .

Another female participant broke down when she narrated her tale; she says "Changes start within the family" .

In earlier days, she said girls were denied education, she and her sisters used to hide and attend school due to the fear of their father who starts beating them on hearing that they wish to go to school.

She recalled her father who rebukes them by saying "the education we provide will benefit your inlaws; not us, so no education for girls" .

She further said "with difficulties we reached this level.

Naga society is at a transitional phase.

A mothers needs to be more empowered.

Women are the most vulnerable section in the society.

We do not find equality in our own family but we boastingly say nagas are equal'' .

A lady participant said "Peacemaking is something we daily come across.

Women play a major role when it comes to peace making, daily we make peace.

Positive energy is much needed.

Women can't stand alone; both man and woman should stand together" .

NEISSR Principal Fr C P Anto in his concluding remarks said, "paying attention to gender is crucial to understand the socio-political and economic dynamics of peace building.

Looking at the past history of Nagaland, women have made a remarkable contribution in bringing an end to violent conflict in naga context.

Naga Mother Association and other women organisation should play a big role in balancing gender-based discrimination" .

He further stated that "It should begin from individual levels to family and then to society.

In any conflict or violence, men are affected directly and its mark is long term for the women and children who are affected indirectly" .

The theater art can play an important role in gender sensitization and prevention of a violent conflict, he added.

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