Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kandhamal women live ‘under siege and fear’

Women survivors of the attacks on Christians in Orissa are still traumatized two years later, a new study of their plight has found.
“What we saw in Kandhamal is disgusting. Women there are living under siege and fear,” says Jalinder Adsule, a member of the study team who visited the district recently.
Survivors have become fatalistic and submissive, he said.
The government has done nothing to restore the abused women’s confidence, team leader Gita Balakrishnan said.
Other team members said there were still few signs of peace.
“It is not peace but terror and fears that stalk Kandhamal society,” said Sister Pramila Topno.
The study was made by 11 students and six teachers from Mumbai’s Church-managed social work college, Nirmala Niketan (house of innocence).
Team members interviewed nearly 300 women in 55 villages of Kandhamal.
The study aimed to gather better information on the extent of violence on women during the anti-Christian riots that rocked Kandhamal for seven weeks starting Aug. 24, 2008.
Nothing has been done for women who were forced to hide in forests for days during the seven-week long violence, said Sister Anitha Chettiar, a member of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary congregation that runs Nirmala Niketan and a senior lecturer there.
Many women had refused to report attacks on them because their violators were protected by police, she said.
Jaycelyn Andrade, a student, said the Kandhamal women now view violence as a way of life.
They have “internalized fear and believe they cannot get out of this sense of insecurity.”

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