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Young Widows Bear The Brunt Of Conflict Situation

IMPHAL, Mar 7: Whereas all preparations have been made for observance of the International Women’s Day, young widows whose husbands have been eliminated by security forces have nothing to forward to. There is no light at the end of the tunnel for these young women.

An international summit held at Copenhagen in 1910 declared March 8 as the International Women’s Day.

Though the day is also being observed in Manipur year after year under the aegis of different civil organizations and women groups, many young widows are living a forlorn life with their young children with receiving any assistance or words of sympathy from any quarter. “Everybody is witness to the fact that many innocent civilians have been shot dead by security forces in Manipur. Safety and security remain something unattainable, beyond the reach of common people”, said Nongmaithem (O) Mina, secretary of the Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families’ Association of Manipur.

She said that their association was formed on July 11, 2009 after uniting young women who have been widowed unnaturally following execution of their husbands by security forces in extra judicial manner.

The association has already 50 widow members while another 100 widows are in the process of enrolment. It has become a platform for the young widows to share their grieves and tale of woes, Mina said. Saying that they have been helping themselves by contributing whatever they could afford, Mina said that they been struggling for survival of their own selves and their children by engaging themselves as vegetable vendors or in manufacturing of incense sticks and eatable items.

However, efforts of the widows to register their association with the Social Welfare Department went in vain as the department insisted on removing the words ‘Extra Judicial’ from the name of the association.

Noting that the Social Welfare Department has a scheme under which monetary assistance is provided to widows above 40 years of age, Mina lamented that most of the widows victimized by the armed conflict situation are young.  As such, they are not entitled to the monetary assistance being provided by the Social Welfare Department.

There is another scheme by the name of National Foundation for Communal Harmony, but widows of men killed by security forces are not encompassed by the said scheme even though assistance is provided towards education of children whose fathers have been killed by UG cadres, Mina decried.    Even though the frequency of killing civilians by security forces has apparently diminished in the aftermath of the killings of Sanjit and Rabina at Khwairamband, nothing has been done to address the plight and misfortune of the young widows and the bereaved families.  Noting that there have been instances where widows carried demand letters of UG groups with their small kids on their back, Mina blamed Government’s insensitivity for the disturbing situation.  The Govt ought to share at least some concern with the misfortune of the widows whose husbands were eliminated by security forces.

By playing blind to the misfortune of the widows, the Government is indirectly encouraging children of the ways to take the wrong path as and when they grow up, Mina added.

Just 33 years old, Mina is one among the many young women whose husbands have been killed in extra-judicial manner.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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