Added: Katelynd Crist - Date: 11.03.2022 03:39 - Views: 30974 - Clicks: 10000
The Burmese expression for refugee is dukkha-the, the "one who has to bear dukkha, suffering. Today approximately 90 per cent of war-related casualties are civilians and the of casualties who are women and children has escalated. Millions and millions of people have been forced to flee wars and war-relate circumstances. Indeed, world refugee statistics 19 million refugees, and a further estimated 24 million "internally displaced" civilians alone indicate that about one in every people on earth has been forced into flight. While the more formal United Nations legal definitions of refuges are founded upon rather narrow terms - involving crossing of territorial boundaries of nation-states - I will employ the general term "refugee" here in a broader sense to indicate persons forced to flee their homes due to violence, repression, and fear associated directly or indirectly with war.
Without dismissing direct battlefield deaths as a measure of war, I intend to focus upon civilians who suffer the terrors of war and who are forced to flee their homes. More specifically, my concern in this article is to highlight the dukkha of women in, and running from, war. This will be with special reference to women in the border areas of Burma ading Thailand , where civil war between the central military regime, now called SLORC State Law and Order Restoration Council , and a of ethnopolitical groups has been waged for over 4 decades. Women's voices have usually been omitted from traditional state-centered analyses of war, conflict and refugee movements.
This has wide ranging implications for what and how we see or do not see , and for which issues are rendered visible or invisible. But including women and their experiences is clearly needed for more accurate understandings of socio-political life. When we start including women, we will often unsettle and transform the that shaped understandings of how and what we know.
To take a more specific example, rape in war has long been ignored as a human rights abuse, and in the Fourth Geneva Convention has been misrepresented as a "crime against honor. Many traditional strategic and political s of war have been approached from a distance or from "above" without due attention to the harsh experiences in people's lives: s of fear, pain, terror, injury, and resistance tend to be relegated to the margins. Having said that, I want to emphasize now the importance of "everyday" experiences of women refugees; their suffering, fear, and courage whether they stay close to their homes or have to flee further.
In the context of civil war in Burma, thousands and thousands of civilian women have suffered from the effects of war and many are forced to flee either close to their homes, within the borders of their own country, or into exile across a border. The following stories are from women mainly Karen, Karenni, and Mon in the eastern border areas of Burma.
Historically, suffering increased with the Burmese regime's notorious "Four Cuts" program which began in This was a counter-insurgency plan deed to cut the four main links of food, funding, intelligence, and recruits among insurgent fighters, their families and local villages. One Karen women as recently as February recalled:.
In common with dirty war strategies perpetrated elsewhere, this constitutes a way of gaining or maintaining sociopolitical control over a population. This control or "victory" is achieved not merely on the battlefield but through the fear suffered by civilians as tactical targets. Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, inificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man's [woman's] self respect and inherent human dignity.
With particular regard to women, another form of terror which functions as a tactical weapon, although it may or may not be an explicitly stated military policy, is rape. While it is perpetrated against both women and men and youths of both sexes, rape is preponderantly inflicted on women. It often occurs during the course of war to punish a group of civilians for perceived sympathies with armed insurgents and to demonstrate the soldiers' control and domination over civilians.
Not only is rape, therefore, an egregious attack targeted directly at individual usually women themselves, but through them it is also often aimed as a deeper attack on the "social body" of entire communities. It is worth noting here that, as one veteran woman major from the Karen army has pointed out, while rape is intended to demoralize the opposition, it just makes them more willing to fight.
Or, consider this quote, a husband's reaction to the rape of his wife : " I'm furious at the Army. It makes me want to fight them" February In addition, Cynthia Enloe, a feminist academic writer, notes that as a result of the more gender sensitive reporting from Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia, rape has received more attention as a state generated act, rather than simply a private but despicable act. It is evident that suffering takes place at the level of both individual women and whole communities, and it is as a mainstay practice of horror and acquiesce in war that we understand rape as a weapon.
By focusing on the plight of refugee whether internally displaced or cross-border , we can show how war extends beyond usual conceptions of what is meant by "war zone" and "war. It is also important to note that people fleeing terror will often try to stay as close to their homes for as long as possible before fleeing further distances, or across an international border. For example, considerations include staying close to other family members, the need to tend fields. The words from a woman aged 49 from a border refugee camp in late bear out these points:. Now in our area it is getting almost impossible for the villagers to survive.
In the past the Burmese army stayed in the plains and the Karen army controlled the hills, so when the Burmese [army] harassed the people they could run to the hills at clearing time and harvest time Other times, they deliberately wait until harvest time, then come and steal or destroy the crops Sometimes we can't even stay in one place for a whole year-only a few months or even a few days in each place.
That's why the villagers have become destitute, can't buy clothes and can't even get enough food. Major K - ordered us to move We could only take some of our things with us It was the rainy season so it was very hard to travel and we couldn't go back everyday. When we got back, a lot of things had disappeared; most of the planks from our houses and all of our livestock were gone.
It was terrible I cried and cried. I don't want to stay in the new place, I want to go home. But we can't because the soldiers are patrolling around there all the time, and if they see anyone they grab them, punch them and beat them Now we face the problem of starvation because we can't work on our farms, we can't do anything.
The s of these women, along with many others, illuminate some of the everyday problems of their constant forced movement, their dukkha, in terms of both practical and psychological consequences. The majority of displaced people from this war zone are internally displaced they have not crossed an international border in this case the Thai border.
The documented figures on refugees and internally displaced people worldwide noted earlier indicate that there are more people forced to flee who have remained within the territorial borders of their own country than those who have remained within the territorial borders of their own country than those who have crossed an international border.
Further, these figures must be considered conservative estimates. In relation to international figures on internally displaced persons, there are many more who share this same fate but who never reach researchers' attention and, therefore, are not represented in the statistics. The case of Burma illustrates graphically the extent to which all those fleeing war suffer problems during and after flight-physical resources such as food and healthcare , homelessness, separation from family members during the chaos of running, and then an often precarious exile.
Internally displaced persons and cross border refugees alike are not far from the problems they are escaping and encounter new dangers and difficulties. Internally displaced people in particular are often sheltering very close to danger because they will often try to stay as close as possible to their homes and far from any official humanitarian aid provided to cross-border refugees. Nonetheless, there are currently 78, refugees living in border camps self administered by indigenous committees in Thailand and receiving basic humanitarian relief from a consortium of non government organizations the Burmese Border Consortium.
It is often final desperation that has driven these people to find cross-border refuge: "I came here because we've suffered so much for so long that we just can't suffer it any more. Their refuge may be precarious; for instance, their status is highly unstable and is not guaranteed in official, legal terms with merely status of illegal immigrant. For women in cross border refugee camps the experiences associated with war are clearly not over. For individuals and their families and friends pain, like fear, usually resists verbal description.
Consider this woman's story:. At night we all had to sleep on the ground, like dogs or pigs. At night - it was terrible. The soldiers raped me. They pointed a gun, and forced us to follow them. I can't describe it to you. I can't talk about it. Elaine Scarry observes the verbal inexpressibility of physical pain, and I would extend this to other experiences of fear and terror.
Some of the sufferings of women in the border areas of Burma include rape, torture, forced porterage of military supplies , slave labor, and road guarding. It is important that these experiences are documented. The Karen Human Rights Group KHRG , an indigenous organization with some foreign staff, is well known and respected for undertaking such detailed documentation in the field on extremely limited funds.
The raw data of human rights abuse documentation in the field gives voice to those who would otherwise remain unheard. KHRG, in the introduction to their February testimonies of women porters, report that women have shown great courage by speaking of these things when interviewed, recognizing the severe emotional strain involved in just recalling their experiences. Some choose not to face the pain of speaking of their worst experiences. Some choose not to face the pain of speaking of their worst experiences, while others have limited the detail of their descriptions.
Furthermore, proceeding with such documentation must be conducted with extreme care, because when not carefully controlled, the collection and use of this information could help, not to eliminate the pain and record it , but to encourage its further infliction. Women and children are frequently left alone in their villages because the men have fled ahead of troops who come to collect them as forced porters to carry military supplies and to act as human mine sweepers on front lines. I arrived here yesterday. I came because we had no more money to pay porter fees, so I didn't dare stay in the village any longer.Women of burma
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The Women of Burma