Bi­nalak­shmi has met

Friday - - Society Living Leisure -

dozens of bat­tal­ions of the In­dian Army and sev­eral units of In­dian para­mil­i­tary forces are in the state tack­ling in­sur­gents.

Be­gin­ning with just 25 women, in De­cem­ber 2004, just days af­ter Re­bika’s hus­band was killed, Bi­nalak­shmi set up­MWGSN, which was for­mally reg­is­tered as a char­ity in 2007. To­day the or­gan­i­sa­tion has 150 mem­bers and reaches out to more than 1,000 women in Ma­nipur who have in some way been af­fected by the vi­o­lence.

“What we do is pro­vide im­me­di­ate help to women who have been de­prived of a bread­win­ner. We of­fer them help with their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion and a source of earn­ing for their daily needs as well as se­cu­rity as best as we can,’’ says Bi­nalak­shmi.

Help on a larger scale

Bi­nalak­shmi is also the sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Con­trol Arms Foun­da­tion of In­dia, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that ad­dresses is­sues re­lat­ing to the use of force as well as the pro­lif­er­a­tion of small arms weapons. She or­gan­ises cam­paigns for this cause across the world.

Her group in Ma­nipur also pro­vides le­gal as­sis­tance to the women to fight their cases for jus­tice and com­pen­sa­tion, since many can’t af­ford to hire lawyers.

Over the years Bi­nalak­shmi has re­ceived a clutch of awards on be­half of her or­gan­i­sa­tion. Among them are the Hu­man­i­tar­ian Ini­tia­tive of the Year award in 2010, the Seán MacBride Peace Prize for out­stand­ing work for peace, dis­ar­ma­ment and hu­man rights in 2010 and the CNN IBN In­dian of the year in 2011.

MWGSN, which runs on do­na­tions, has trans­formed the lives of many peo­ple whose fam­i­lies have suf­fered at the hands of the vi­o­lence. One per­son they helped is Huidrom Tanya Devi. She was just eight years old when she lost her fa­ther, a karate in­struc­tor, who was found shot dead by rebels in 2007.

The young girl still ques­tions her fa­ther’s un­timely death. “Even to­day I don’t know why my fa­ther died. I ask ev­ery­one but no­body has an­swers,” she says. The net­work gave her mother a loan of Rs3,000, with which she was able to start a small gro­cery busi­ness. Over time, Huidrom Tanya and her mother be­came con­fi­dent en­trepreneurs and now their shop, which sells em­broi­dered dress ma­te­ri­als, in­cense sticks, fruit and veg­eta­bles, is run­ning well and earn­ing them a liv­ing.

Mum­taz is an­other vic­tim whose hus­band, a col­lege lec­turer, was shot dead in 2009. With five chil­dren to look af­ter, she too started a gro­cery busi­ness with a loan of Rs8,000 fromMWGSN.

“To­day’s gun vi­o­lence has more to do with lo­cal, national and global pol­i­tics than the sep­a­ratist move­ment it started with,” says Bi­nalak­shmi. She is try­ing to raise the pro­file of the peo­ple of north­east In­dia and, in the process, cre­ate a force of global am­bas­sadors who will speak about Ma­nipur and its prob­lems. Her aim is to dis­arm the rebels and en­cour­age them to find a peace­ful end to the con­flict.

“We can only reach a limited num­ber of women, but the govern­ment can con­nect with thou­sands of them. With this or­gan­i­sa­tion we are show­ing the way, believ­ing that some­day things will change for the bet­ter.”

many fa­mous lob­by­ists like 1997 No­bel Peace Prize-win­ner Jody Wil­liams

New Delhi for the arms trade treaty, which aims to limit the il­licit sale of con­ven­tional arms

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.