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According to the report Extreme Gender-based Violence (EGV) in India sexual and gender-based violence—whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic—is a pervasive reality in patriarchal societies like India; conflict situations appear to worse this. The report looks at 4 contexts of extremism in India and focus on Chhattisgarh, Assam, Kashmir and Karnataka.
The United Nations’ definition of gender-based violence has usually been anchored in a feminist understanding of the term. Gender and sexual minorities are invisible; the discrimination, exclusion and violence they experience. Indian women experience violence at every life stage, from conception—through sex-selective abortion—to elder abuse. To set this context, the authors have compiled data across two decades from Crime in India, the annual report published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). These reports combine data based on police and categorize them by the laws they invoke.
Within the broader context of rising levels of reported sexual and gender-based violence in a patriarchal culture, conflict-related violence in Assam seems to arise primarily as “collateral damage” in many localised contests across the state. As much as militants and police target women as representatives of their opponents, they are also vulnerable as a function of other changes engendered by conflict—bereavement, displacement and landlessness. Seeking a direct correlation between the politics of various groups and their acts of violence will require deeper textual analysis and fieldwork. Still, in an overview, the accounts we gather allow us to point to the indirect ways in which living with multiple conflicts increases the possibility and probability of experiencing violence.
In Chhattisgarh, levels of gender-based violence are reported to have risen sharply from around 2007 onward, marking the Salwa Judum period and its immediate aftermath. While the Maoists have not generally been associated with perpetrating sexual and genderbased violence, government-sponsored vigilantes have. When the militias shut down, reporting appeared to have gone up, reinforcing our speculation of a relationship between the two. Without fieldwork, it is harder to establish how years of insurgency and counterinsurgency have impacted the language of everyday relationships in this region.
Misogyny is profoundly and overtly embedded in the extremist discourse in Karnataka. Anti-Christian feeling is expressed through attacks on church-goers of all genders Rajagopalan, Raghuvanshi; Impact of Extremism on Sexual & Gender-Based Violence 14 and venues and customs associated with Western/Christian culture. Anti-Muslim sentiment is strongly expressed in anti-hijab and anti-halal protests but more insidiously in “love jihad” attacks on young people suspected to be interfaith romantic couples. While the attacks remain local and personal, they are gendered.
Relatively low reporting of everyday violence in Kashmir suggests both a lack of access (due to curfews and violence) and a lack of confidence in the police. Beyond this, when we look at over three decades since the beginnings of this round of insurgency, there are four ways in which women have become more vulnerable to sexual and gender-based Rajagopalan, two of which are deeply significant—the misogynistic ideology of extremist groups that seek to express their protest by controlling dress and behavior of women, and the misogynistic ideology of state forces that see women as fair proxies for a conflict over which—as locals who belong, blend into the community and know the terrain—militants enjoy some advantage.
Further, the report lists speculative conclusions, speculative because due to lack of methodology limitations, on the relationship between extremism and sexual and gender-based violence to form basis for future studies.
Drawing together the lessons of these four cases, three common factors emerge. First, misogyny in ideology will find violent expression in actions. Second, in a climate of increasing political violence, security forces, militants and ordinary people are all equally likely to be perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence. Impunity for such violence is reinforced by the push-pull between state and non-state forces. Third, complex emergencies that follow conflicts create new vulnerabilities and opportunities to perpetuate violence. In addition, this study observed that there is insufficient evidence about the brutalizing impact of conflict and that while crime databases are accessible resources, they cannot answer the most critical questions.
(Rajagopalan, Raghuvanshi; Impact of Extremism on Sexual & Gender-Based Violence 21 )
CategoriesGender Based Violence