Indian Women Are Fighting Gun Violence
by swarthmorean.com | Published: Friday, April 08, 2016
Binalakshmi Nepram Thinks Americans Can Do It, Too
Binalakshmi Nepram was born in the Manipur state of Northeast India,
which she describes as both beautiful and extraordinarily violent. The
rugged region adjoining Myanmar is home to 70 population groups speaking
400 languages and dialects, and has burned with both ethnic and
political separatist violence since its merger into independent India in
1949. "As I grew up in this region, I thought all the violence and wars
were natural. It was only after I came to New Delhi that I realized the
situation was not at all normal.
Bina was moved to devote her life to
researching the gun violence phenomenon and developing responses to
counter the growth of the scourge and support its victims. She spoke
recently at Swarthmore College's Science Center about her work, her
writing and the organizations which involve women in arms control in
India, and which may show the way to effective responses to gun violence
in America. Her visit was sponsored by the college's Department of
Religion and the Asian Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Gender
and Sexuality Studies programs.
later interview, Bina said: "My research found that 57 types of small
arms â€¦ have flooded into Manipur and other parts of Northeast India in
the past 30 years ... from China, Pakistan, Belgium, Thailand, Russia,
United States of America, United Kingdom, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan,
Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar and of late, Israel. The effect of this
proliferation has been alarming .... 50,000 people were killed in Northeast
India; 20,000 women are widowed in Manipur alone. Our work also showed
that it was not just Manipur, but worldwide.People are killed each year
due to rampant weaponization of our lives, communities, society, nations
and the world.
[the inaction of Indian government], we mobilized civil society and in
2004, I co-founded the Control Arms Foundation of India in New Delhi
(CAFI) .... to address issues relating to proliferation of small arms and
light weapons as they affect civil society particularly women, children
and the elderly, and also to create a movement in the subcontinent where
defense and security issues are debated through informed debate,
particularly as they relate to policies.
this work, we also lobby Indian disarmament officials, parliamentarians
and think tanks, networking with other NGOs. We have also conducted
mass awareness programs such as organizing an essay contest titled,
'What have guns done to my country?'.... We also made three films on gun
control issues and organized photo exhibitions related to gun violence.
third area of my work takes the form of direct intervention in the
lives of women gun survivors. I launched in 2007 the Manipur Women Gun
Survivors Network (MWGSN), which is the first of its kind in South Asia.
MWGSN attempts to lift women above the trauma and agony faced in the
conflict ....It assists them in small-scale entrepreneurial work and is
working towards building sustainable livelihood measures for
gun-affected women in Manipur. The Network helps women gun survivors to
open bank accounts and provides small loans.
our generation started the women's movement against gun violence, we
were able to take the message out to the public and government to take
action against this massive proliferation of small arms and light
weapons. Our current work with 20,000 women in 300 villages is a
testimony to this. We thus sincerely feel that if women of America came
together with supportive men, they can help save so many lives that are
cut short each day with killings. Women of Manipur have over the years
voiced their protest in very dignified nonviolent ways. Some of the
techniques used include patrolling streets at night with bamboo torches,
sit-in protests, hunger strikes, rallies, and wearing attire of lament
such as funeral clothes.
extremely important to organize effective reduction of gun violence and
proliferation in America - 372 mass shootings happened in the US in
2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870. We need to evolve
strategies that America and the world, united in action, join hands to
ensure this is curbed."