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War against women

“The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her; but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes.”¯ C. JoyBell C. Today, the state is observing the ‘Nupi Lan’ day in commemoration of the fearless struggles and defiance of the British rulers by the womenfolk of the state, in not one but two historical instances to assert their democratic rights and highlight the injustices to the people of the state. the first Nupi Lan which broke out in 1904 was against the British order to send Manipuri men to Kabow Valley to fetch timber for re-building the then Police Agent’s bungalow after it was ravaged by fire, stirred up by the heirs-apparent of the erstwhile ruling family who did not like the selection of Chura Chand Singh as the King of Manipur. They persuaded the women of Manipur to resist the British government’s order to resuscitate the Lalup (A sort of forced labour where the male member of society between the age of 17 and 60 should work freely for ten days in every forty days of work). The struggle in which more than 5,000 women took part lasted for a week. Although the British rulers had eventually succeeded in suppressing the uprising, they were compelled to rescind the order, thus scoring what can be arguably considered the first moral and psychological victory over the suppressive British rulers. The second instance started in 1939 as an agitation by Manipuri women against the oppressive economic and political policies and practices of the then Maharaja of Manipur and Mr. Grimson- Political Agent of the British Government in Manipur (1933-45) which later evolved into a movement for the constitutional and administrative reforms in the state. The women of Manipur have evidently been at the forefront of social interactions and are no pushovers. History bears the sacrifices and the selfless struggles they had to undertake to safeguard the society and its backbone of cultures and traditions. They have taken equal, if not extraordinary, responsibilities and endured endless sufferings in every sphere of social and public issues since time immemorial, and yet somehow, the present attitude towards them is increasingly reeking of shallow lip-service and mere courtesy. Despite the many laws and regulations being enacted to protect the women, instances of crime and atrocities against them are on the rise. The greatest cause for concern however is the fact that the perpetrators, even when identified and indicted, almost always slip through the sloppy legal procedures whether by design or direful negligence, until the issues fade into oblivion. The dismally low rate of convictions, especially in cases concerning crimes against women bears testimony to the fact that our society still need to go a long way and answer some very harsh and extremely uncomfortable questions before the situation improves. A society that fails to respect and safeguard its womenfolk cannot consider itself progressive.

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