Indian women 'gun survivors' urge for disarmament

24 November 2011

From 21 to 23 November 2011, the Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network and Control Arms Foundation of India organised a three day art and craft exhibition, around the theme 'Weaving Disarmament', to spread the message of peace and disarmament amid growing conflict. This article provides background information and shares key messages from the event.

Indian women 'gun survivors' urge for disarmament
Anubha Shukla
OneWorld South Asia
23 November 2011

Manipuri women are bearing the brunt of five decades long armed violence in the state that hasclaimed thousands of lives. Civil society is pushing for disarmament and peace in the region.

The discussion was held amidst a three day art and craft exhibition by Manipuri women, starting Nov 21, to spread the message of peace and disarmament amid growing global conflict.

According to research by CAFI, more than 30 armed groups operate in the state making it the most conflict-ridden region of the country. Armed violence between the state andinsurgents has claimed over 20,000 lives in the last five decades.

Women are the worst sufferers when their husbands, sons or any other family members are killed by state, non-state actors. More than 300 women are widowed each year with no livelihood or hope for earning one.

Another aspect which fuels conflict is the influx of illegal arms in the region. CAFI research shows that weapons from 13 countries are flooded into Manipur, which are used by insurgent groups in the state. The arms are readily available at inexpensive prices. A landmine costs just Rs 40! whereas a country pistol can be obtained at a mere Rs 200!

In Jammu and Kashmir, armed forces have captured 39,000 AK-47 rifles and it’s still unknown where those weapons are and to whom they are sold to since they all were unmarked. What happens to the captured arms is a new area of concern especially in conflicted areas like Manipur and Jammu & Kashmir and demands immediate steps to control the same. “Mark every gun in this country like we are marking every Indian in this country through UID (Unique Identification Number),” urged Binalakshi Nepram, [founder of Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network]

The panel discussion was followed by an art and craft exhibition showcasing the work by women from Manipur.

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