Horrible accounts of conflict-victim women awaiting ‘justifiable justice’ to adjust in society, family

Kathmandu: “They raped me. But the thirst of barbarians was not over; they dragged me outside the home and shot me on my chest and head before throwing me onto a nearby nursery believing that I was no more alive.”

A woman who was subjected to gang rape, brutal physical abuse and torture during the Maoist insurgency was narrating her stories from behind a curtain to a mass amidst a programme organised here Friday. The Story Kitchen provided such platform for the conflict-victim women including her who gathered here mustering courage to share their experiences they fared during the decade-long armed conflict. They strongly believed that it would mount pressure on the State to ensure them justice, not only the ‘legal one’.

As she said she is living with a badly mutilated body which gives her physical as well as mental pains every moment, she is not able to carry out bodily movement as normal people. “Do you feel how people like us are living? Though I wish to share my pains face-to-face, with all, where there is a favorable situation for so,” she added.

“Where is the appropriate compensation for the brutal pain the innocent people had to suffer due to the conflict from both the rebel and State sides,” questioned Munishara Thapa Chhetri from Banke district. The 71-year-old grandma of two is haunted by the scene of the sanguinary killing of her son and daughter- in-law. On September 10, 2002, the then Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) had forcibly entered her house at night before shooting dead her 34-year – old son and 30-year-old daughter in-law in bed. Their atrocities were not over as they took the lifeless bodies with them. She becomes speechless when her grandchildren (who were just two – and- half – year-old and nine months at that time) question her about their parents. Since then, Munishara – supposed to be under the care of others in this age – has to accomplish the role of a guardian to the orphaned children.

Moreover, in another horrible story – Meena Nepali from Rolpa was expecting second child when her husband was gunned down by the rebelling force. He was a school teacher. She, now 35, was just 23 when she became single. She finds it very hard to interpret mistreatment the family and society meted out to her after the brutal murder of her husband.

A woman who preferred to remain behind the curtain to narrate her painful stories said she was forced to work as a loader to assist the then Maoist combatants. Though initially she used her ‘full’ strength to resist the pressure from the rebels to join them, finally she gave up fearing fatal consequences. On the day of 26 July, 2002, the security personnel from the State side held her while she was heading to jungle to collect fodder. They accused her of working for the Maoists and sent her to another district. “It might be as a warning they shot my leg and forced me to do their very personal works that included washing clothes of their spouses and so on.” She was just 15 at that time. One evening after one month, she succeeded in escaping police confinement, which in her words ‘saved her life’. Now married and mother of a son, she said she could not dare to come out into the open to narrate her experiences as she feared for people’s doubts that she might have faced any sorts of violence and harassment while in police detention.

The stories of atrocities the females fared during the conflict across the country are not over. The women and children were hit the hardest during the era of conflict and violence and they suffered a horrible past when the country plunged into the conflict from 1996 to 2006. The death toll climbed as high as 17,000 during the conflict.
Karuna Chaudhary 22, from Kailali district burst into tears and interrupted herself frequently while telling her stories. Her father was a veterinary practitioner. One night a squad of the then RNA came to her house searching for her father. Luckily, he was not at home on that day, but his father could not escape the security surveillance for long and he was ultimately captured during security’s foray.

The Chaudhary family later came to know that the mortal body of their loved one lay in a nearby cornfield. The day was August 12, 2002. “The savage ones killed my father putting a tag of ‘terrorist’ on him. It hurts, really hurts.”

She broke out while sharing the ordeal. After three days since the murder of her dear father, in midnight, she woke up, asked for a torch from her mother and went to a nearby field and manually dug out a pit and buried the dead body.

The families of the conflict victims are desperately waiting for a justifiable answer why their dear ones were killed.

They were saying that they were just representatives of thousands of women who were meted out various sorts of abuses ranging from rape to battering during the conflict. The victims said they were not there to beg for something from the State, but were merely seeking justice. One million rupees of monetary compensation is not enough to heal their deep wounds. Calling for the creation of an atmosphere in which they could live easily for other people in the society, they voiced that the brutal killings of their loved ones must be justified by the State along with a guarantee of free medical service for them, their children and dependants. They have also demanded cost – free higher education for their children.

The victims have appealed to the State for apologies for injustices done to scores of women during the conflict. They have also called for an announcement that such women had no role in inviting such situation in their lives.

Besides, their alarming concern was the sexual abuse and torture which the government missed out in the State’s definition of conflict-era violence. This term should be included in the definition of violence and their issues should be addressed specifically.