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Thursday, April 12, 2001

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Paradise turns hell for these women

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, APRIL 11.

It was about paradise being turned into hell within a matter of minutes, of being humiliated, betrayed and abandoned to a terrifying life for the women delegates from Kashmir and North- East who have come together for the first time to share their grief and ``learn from each other on how to cope with it best''.

``Most of us didn't even get the time to let the grief of the loss of our near and dear ones sink in. We were just so hard pressed to get going and taking care of what was left behind,'' claim women delegates who came together for a two-day dialogue in the city. The workshop organised by the Oxfam India Trust and the North-East Network also had participation of members of groups and organisations working with victims of violence.

Billed as the first ever such initiative to share the experience of living with conflict -- both short and long term -- women from both the regions claimed that it was the growing distrust among the people, lack of any trauma control cell in the region and no active rehabilitation work by the government that was making the life of the women harder in these areas.

The large number of deaths of the male members in encounters, firing and disappearance has forced the women to take charge. ``She has to keep her family alive amidst a tremendous sense of fear, insecurity while following the social norms. She is at the receiving end of the militants, security forces and her owing people,'' said a Easter from Manipur, who has been charged with murder of her husband and is fighting for the custody of her children.

``Together we have learned that grief can be overcome if the women are educated and have the courage to stand up for their rights. But most importantly can make the society accept them as human being,'' said NGO worker in Kashmir, Ms. Sazia Kowos.

``The fact that the women from these area have come out no matter in how small a number to tell the nation about their misery takes tremendous courage,'' said Consultant with the Oxfam India Trust, Ms. Urvashi Butalia.

Blaming the media for its inaccurate reporting in certain cases the women said, ``We have come here today and told the media about the hardship that we face, but nothing can guarantee our life when we go back. Media too has contributed to the distortion of what is happening at the Valley and the North-east, instead of helping us out.''

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