The cost of extreme political traumatisationThe state and the political parties are in denial about the sexual violence that occurred during the conflict.
The huge scars of the decade-long armed conflict in Nepal are still seen among the people who suffered immensely during the fighting, especially among the women who were sexually and physically tortured. The women who suffered from brutal torture are still paying the cost of extreme political traumatisation which they shouldn’t have to in this so-called peacetime. The government and the political parties have never recognised their contribution to the system change. This lapse has compelled women to still deal with the five elements of violence in this post-conflict period—structural violence, direct violence, psychological violence, dehumanisation by society and the destruction of social ties and relations.
Rape and physical torture were mostly inflicted on women from the Chaudhary and Dalit communities by both warring parties with the mindset of militarisation by manifesting power against these powerless women. This was a source of racism and sexism which also contributed to underpinning impunity. The profound socio-psychological and political effects of the invasion of women’s body can still be experienced.
The country moved on in the name of the post-conflict period without addressing the five elements of violence mentioned above. It also shifted the dynamics of many identities of the people who are enjoying the peace dividend and power in the new social and political context, leaving behind the identity and security of the women who suffered from sexual and physical violence during the armed conflict.
The state and the political parties are rhetorically saying that we have achieved peace in our country, but how can it be justified until and unless they look back, empathise with the women sufferers, and take major steps to support these women in a holistic way in terms of familial level justice, self-justice, political justice, social justice, physiological justice, economic justice and legal justice? Then only can they argue that we are moving forward from the state of negative peace to positive peace. The state and the political parties are in denial about the conflict-related sexual violence, and this is compelling the women to live in a state of layer of insult and injustice and in a state of marginalisation.
It is always hard to move from political violence until and unless past human rights violations are addressed. While formulating plans and policies, especially the interim compensation policy, the government closed the door to cases of sexual violence. In addition, the non-affected communities of the conflict, families and communities of women never understand the suffering of women, which is also contributing to the act of dehumanisation by the society and families of the women.
Women who suffered from sexual and physical violence were thrown out by their families and their society by questioning their sexuality and considering them to be ‘impure’. This is also forcing women to live in a critical stage by suppressing their voices as it is always very hard for them to narrate the cost of political traumatisation, and talk about the sexual nature of their victimisation. However, we see the establishment of many new institutions which are reshaping the political and social context of the general people, ignoring the fact of the severe political trauma what women faced at the time of the conflict. It seems like justice is associated with the political change of the institutions and the country only.
It is necessary for the state-formed structures and political parties to consider the past and present sufferings of the women by empathising with the victims and survivors to provide them justice as per the definition of the women who suffered from political traumatisation and according to their real needs. It is necessary to shift the notion of abnormality of self-blame to help the women live a normal life with dignity as they feel self-humiliation on a daily basis. It is also interesting to see how the current transitional justice mechanism deals with these issues given its weak policy and procedure.
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