“Women are not willing to go back to pre-war status quo
By Kumi Samuel and Chulani Kodikara
‘Women are not just victims of war, as some aspects of their experiences are empowering and can be used as a resource for healing and transformation’.
War is a gendered process. Post war is no different. It may be a cliché to say that in Sri Lanka as elsewhere in the world, the most visible and harmful impact of 30 years of war has been on women, but that is the reality. As men joined militant groups or the armed forces, were arrested, abducted, disappeared, or took flight to safer locations outside the community or the country, women were left behind to cope with fractured families and communities; multiple displacement, transition in alien spaces such as camps for the displaced; or resettlement in distant and unfamiliar regions. Untold numbers of women, mostly Tamil, (but including a significant number of Muslim and Sinhala women living in conflict affected areas) became de facto and de jure heads of household and were thrust into new roles both within and outside the private domain. They became responsible for the physical and economic security and survival of their families and had to battle the cultural constraints that challenged this conflict-imposed transition. While the violence of war and attendant militarism also contributed to increase the nature and levels of violence against women, ranging from sexual harassment to rape and sexual torture they were never merely victims of the war and violence. (…)
Conflicts inevitably produce structural transformations for some women opening up new social, economic and political opportunities which challenge and reframe gender hierarchies and roles. But how does one sustain these positive gender shifts in the aftermath of war? Oftentimes the end of war signals a return to the pre war gender regime and valiant efforts to ‘reconstruct gender’’ in the old way. (…)
While official government policy maybe taking a protectionist and welfarist approach to women in the post war context, many women who experienced the war first hand may not be willing to go back to their kitchens and resume their pre war gender roles. As demonstrated at the Jaffna Municipal Council Elections held in August last year, women in the war affected areas in this county are ready to take up the challenge of rebuilding their communities in the aftermath of war (…).”
(Quelle: Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières.)