Ethnic Violence

India has been widely shook by a recent surfacing video from the eastern state of Manipur which has been subject to ethnic violence and conflict. This video shows the degradation and assault of two women of the Kuki tribe of the Kangpokpi district and has sparked national and international outrage about the matter.

This video shows two women being paraded naked by a mob of men of the Meitei group, being groped and dragged and eventually pushed onto a field. They are heard weeping and begging for mercy, wincing in pain. It has also been alleged that these women were gang raped. This video, which is highly disturbing to watch and has been pulled from all mainstream corners of the internet at the request of the Indian authorities, also clearly identifies the responsible men, which is why it was concerning to the public that arrests were made more than two months after the incident.

Meanwhile, the issue has found itself to the Indian government. Parliament session in Delhi was interrupted by demands by lawmakers to discuss the issue and the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has said:

“I assure the nation, the law will take its course with all its might. What happened with the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven,”

The Chief Justice of India also spoke up saying he along with the Supreme Court was “deeply disturbed over the video” and said that the court will take action to resolve the injustice if the government fails to do so.

However, these responses were unsatisfactory to a lot of the people because they too came after a two month long silence on the matter. Moreover, they are only the latest in a series of atrocities being committed because of the civil ethnic unrest in Manipur. Clashes between the majority Meitei group and the smaller Kuki tribal groups have led to the deaths of at least 130 people and the displacement of up to 60,000. Considering this, it can be noted that most of these people were involved in general conflict and fighting. With these videos, a whole other but not new issue comes to the table, of the weaponisation of women’s bodies in conflict stricken areas.

Unlike crimes like murder and theft that can be purposeful but which are obviously horrible as well, rape is a crime with no other ulterior motive than to assert dominance and humiliate and take power away from the victim. In this particular case, the whole incident was a display of power over the Kuki tribes by taking the privacy and autonomy over their own bodies away from these women. Additionally, in a lot of areas especially in South Asia, rape victims are seen as those robbed of their “honour” and bringers of shame to their families, further making their life harder and exemplifying the crimes against them as something that they could have potentially prevented.

Aside from this, the lethargic reaction of authorities is of concern considering the issue has reached global platforms. It is hoped that the Indian government will now take apt action to bring the perpetrators to justice.

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