Women and Conflict

Women and Conflict
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The world celebrated the International Women’s Day on the 8th of March. It is axiomatic that the world has progressed leaps and bounds in terms of women’s rights over the years. But, at the same time, many of these advancements are theoretical and not real. The recent MeToo crescendo eloquently demonstrated how women are still treated as commodities to be ill treated and disrespected even in the highest echelons. The prosaic fact of the matter is that while rhetorically, women’s days are celebrated with much aplomb, there are manifest gender disparities and inequities in the world. (The so called advanced world is not immune from this). The problem is more acute and poignant in conflictual conditions and places riven by conflict. The recent sex for aid scandal that emerged in Haiti and, in which members of the charity and humanitarian organization Oxfam were implicated, illustrates the point. Similarly, in Syria, it has been observed that women are at the receiving end of the conflict. Closer home, in Kashmir, women again are that stakeholder and sufferers in the conflict, that go unnoticed. One glaring example of this is the Kunan Poshpora mass rape. That the rape took place is indubitable but the victims, after a gap of many years, still await justice, their lives permanently marred and scarred by the harrowing and debilitating experience. The test case of the constant harping on women empowerment, by powers that be, would have been according justice to these hapless victims of the conflict. Women in conflict zones then are most vulnerable. And, grist to the mill of the idea and practice of women empowerment would be formed when and if the safety (physical and emotional), security of women in conflict zones were ensured. Broadly and generically speaking, the idea of empowered women is a universal one. Here Islam was in the forefront in according rights and dignity to women folk in Arabia of yore. But, in terms of certain issues that bedevil womenfolk in some parts of the world, these can be attributed to culture; not religion. Having said this, again from a general and generic perspective, it cannot be denied that women’s condition has improved over the years. However, a sense of perspective is warranted and has been delineated here, the picture is uneven, especially in conflictual conditions and conflict zones. The honor, dignity, respect of and for women is paramount. Women are owed these everywhere.

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