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Women issues, western imperialism discussed at WSF meet

In a public meeting at the WSF on Sunday, the speakers not only raised the issues of atrocities committed on women but also linked it with the US imperialism, reports Purwa Khandelwal.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2004 20:59 IST
Purwa Khandelwal
Purwa Khandelwal

In a public meeting, 'War against women and women against war' at the WSF on Sunday, the speakers not only raised the issues of atrocities committed on women on national and international level but also linked it with the US imperialism.

Egyptian writer and activist Nawal el Saddawi said, "They say we are living in the time of post-feminism. Are we?  Because women are not liberated. Especially when the countries are not liberated, how can we say that the women are liberated."

Taking the cause of Iraqi women, she said, "Iraqi women say how can we be liberated under foreign occupation."

While mentioning that women liberation is associated with the liberation of oil, she said, "They are half the society. They suffer in military war and economic war."

Nawal also criticised the demonstration against the French government's decision to do away with veil and said, "It was funny because the women who were demonstrating against the decision had make-up and were wearing jeans and micro-jeans."

"The most serious make-up is the veiling of mind," she asserted.

Describing the wearing of make-up as the 'post-modern veil', she asked for shunning of cosmetics and said, "If I use make-up, I am a tool in the hands of imperialists," adding, "You are helping multinationals to have profit."

Noted writer Arundhati Roy said, "Many of us are caught between the brutality of our tradition and the brutality of modern world."

Recalling the horrors of post-Godhra violence, she said that it was disturbing how women participated in the violence against other women.

Roy said,  "Everyday is a war of survival. Many people have been displaced by dam and its the women bear the brunt of this displacement."

She said cash compensation for taking away the land from tribal people was given to men in societies that were egalitarian. She said, "This is a process of disempowering of women."

Saher Saba, from Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), said that war and atrocities in Afghanistan started way back in 1979 with Russian invasion only.

She said, "The women in Afghanistan are not only the first victims of war but they are also the first to say no to war."

Talking about the constitutional body in her country, Saher said, "How can we trust a constitution the chief of which stood up and said, 'Women are half of men. They should not try to equal men.'

Irene Khan, the first woman, Asian and the Muslim to secretary of Amnesty International said, "Woman's body has become a symbol of honour."

She added that the rape has become a tactic of war and it has become a weapon to humiliate a woman's family and community.

Illustrating Gujarat, she said, "Unfortunately, it is not only in war that a rape is used as a tactic."

She said, "More and more women are becoming poor and though they contribute more to the economy they get less wages."

Asking for the support for the International Criminal Court, she added, "It is unfortunate that the Government of India refused to sign the treaty for the International Criminal Court."

First Published: Jan 19, 2004 20:59 IST

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