Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Human Rights: Experiences of Women in Nagaland
Abstract: Millions of women continue to live in conditions of abject deprivation of their basic human rights for no reason than that they are women. Soldiers, militia and their sympathizers continue to sexually assault women with impunity in armed conflicts around the globe. In India, conflict ridden areas like north east, women are the worst sufferers along with children and aged. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act which was introduced to curb insurgency in the remote jungles of the far flung areas has remained a telling tale of agony in the north east. Grievous trauma to humans through encounter killings, custodial deaths, unwarranted torture, exploitation of women and children in several ways have been reported in Nagaland, Manipur and other north eastern states where the Indian army has been exercising powers under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. Numerous cases of rape, sexual assault and mutilation continue to be perpetrated by the state actors as well as non-state actors. Despite the international recognition of rape and other sexual assault as crimes during armed conflict, governments fail to respond vigorously to investigate and punish such crimes. Therefore, a large number of women activists in the region feel that introduction of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was as much violation of human rights and its continuation is undesirable. What worried everyone is the arbitrary use, or rather misuse of power by the Indian armed forces particularly against the weaker sections of the society, including women. After having being subjected to indiscriminate abuse of that law, the people of the north east India have been demanding its revocation for a long time. This article is a modest attempt to examine the experiences of women in Nagaland under the shadow of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
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