Transcendence

+100%-

The peaceful candlelight protest that was held at Super Market, Dimapur, on April 15, 2018, against the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old at Kathua ~ as indeed against the alleged rape at Unnao and all rapes and other crimes against women and children across the country ~ is not just a symbolic gesture of solidarity of the people of Nagaland with victims and survivors of such horrific crimes and against the perpetrators and their supporters. It was also a public demonstration of the rage and the anguish at the inhumanity of defiling and debasing women and children thereby making their bodies battle grounds of patriarchal power plays that have become fundamental to and define the politics of communalism, racism, hatred, etc., India has been witnessing increasingly. This rage, this anguish, has been mounting in the Northeast too ~ because (1) of the increasing incidents of crimes against women and children in the region; (2) the deeply-entrenched patriarchal ethos and the culture of impunity patriarchy spawns prevalent in the region (3) and, the violence against Northeastern women in Indian cities. As elsewhere in the country, patriarchy is very much alive and kicking in the Northeast too, which creates the atmosphere and environment of threat to the lives and limbs of women and children here too ~ and the concomitant fears and insecurities thereof. Why should women and children live in fear, and live insecure and unsafe lives? Consider also that even in ancient and traditional Naga society, in the days of head-hunting, a woman’s scalp was prized more because women were said to be guarded the most against enemy raids and so if a warrior beheads a woman, he is celebrated as the bravest because he is deemed to have broken through the protective layers of the raided village. Yes, women’s lives and bodies have always been a battle field for power plays, and these power plays are corollaries of patriarchal power and dominance politics everywhere across the globe. Indubitably, patriarchy and its corollaries such as communalism, racism, discrimination and the cultures of impunity, are also assertions of the “who’s the boss” mindset and attitudes. Another aspect of the peaceful candlelight protest at Dimapur last Sunday also underscores the increasing acknowledging and internalizing of women of Nagaland that all women across the country confront the same threats and live with the same fears and insecurities ~ therefore, the imperatives to stand in solidarity with all women of India and elsewhere. This is a very positive development because women, of Nagaland have now proved their transcendence above and beyond the confines of tribalism, nativist and communal thinking and narratives. As far as women and our lives and limbs are concerned, race, religion, community, cultures and customs have not proved to provide any protection to women and children. This transcendence is a very encouraging because breaking free from the confines of tribalism, nativist and communal thinking and narratives would also positively impact on other issues that are rife in Naga society and state, which have impeded us from our forward march. Social Scientists and developmental experts, after all, do assert that the over-all development of a society is largely dependent on the cultures of the people ~ and it is time to liberate ourselves from the cultures of tunnel-visioned communal thinking. Once we do so, our politics would also be impacted. The intimately-intertwined relationship between culture and politics cannot be over-emphasized ~ the nature, the content and characteristics of politics in Nagaland is evidence enough. The Naga Mothers’ Association’s Press Statement on Kathua and Unnao Rapes ~ particularly the sentence: “We are in solidarity with all grieving families whose daughters have been violated” ~ is another example of Naga women’s rising above “narrow domestic walls”, the very same walls that create divisive politics, communalism, racism, discrimination and the violence thereof; the very same walls that immure women not only within the confines of her home but also within second-classhood, within the status of non-personhood. It is the very same walls that dictate and determine our politics, economics, social and cultural interfaces, which have all coalesced to make women’s lives and bodies the battleground for the deeply-embedded patriarchal power politics that have never served the cause of humanity, society and nation ~ and it will never.