Women without Borders, an international research and lobbying organisation, is holding an event in Mumbai on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of 26/11. Social scientist Dr Edit Schlaffer, who started the organisation in 2002, spoke to Hindustan Times about their plans to organise women, students and victims of attacks to combat terror.
What brings you to Mumbai?
We were launching a women’s anti-terror platform called Sisters Against Violent Extremism, a year ago, in Vienna, when the terror attacks started in Mumbai. We decided that we would come to Mumbai to talk to survivors and raise awareness about the consequences of terrorism.
Terror attacks affect men and women equally. So, why do you think women should play a more important role in the fight against terror?
Women are closer to communities as mothers and educators. They are the true authorities at grass roots level and can reach out to the younger generation. We have spoken to the mothers of many jihadis. Most of them saw it coming but were either in a state of denial or did not know what they could do. Women should raise an alarm if they see that their sons, husbands or other family members are being trapp-ed by the ideology of extremism.
Do you think the current actions for combating terrorism in India are insufficient?
Our counter terrorism actions are looking at the problem the wrong way. I think the civil society needs to address the root cause. We need to see the feeling of discrimination, alienation and anger that lead youth to get influenced by the wrong messages that are being giving by extremist groups.
What advise do you have for Indians?
The victims of the terror attacks in India are totally isolated. Each one is fending for himself/herself without support. I think they need to organise themselves.
The families of 9/11 victims are very united. They have become an important pressure group and are shaping policies in the United States.
How will involving victims and survivors in the fight help?
We need the testimonials of people who have gone through the tragedy to reach out to the younger generation. We need them to ask the seminaries of terrorism what they achieved by killing their loved ones.
What work will your organisation do in India?
We have already started a campaign called Students Against Violent Extremism in Lucknow and in a few schools in Delhi. The students have pledged to act if they see any friend straying down the wrong path.