'We Can't Get Anything by Request, We Have to Strike or Protest': Tamil Women's Quest for Justice and Transition in Post Conflict Northern Sri Lanka

Citation:

Menezes, Deborah. 2018. "'We Can't Get Anything by Request, We Have to Strike or Protest': Tamil Women's Quest for Justice and Transition in Post Conflict Northern Sri Lanka." Paper presented at the 25th European Conference on South Asian Studies, Paris, July 24-27.

Author: Deborah Menezes

Abstract:

Following a deeply divisive and highly destructive thirty year long conflict, Sri Lanka is nearing a decade transitioning towards rebuilding and reconciliation. Internationally, feminist research has established how gender is often seen as trivial by many in leadership positions resulting in key elements of post war reconstruction neglected. In Sri Lanka, too, women are missing from key positions in post war rebuilding and reconciliation processes. Women have been given little role in shaping transitional justice policies. However through my 12 month long fieldwork in Sri Lanka I saw a surge in women networking at grassroots and providing social support structures that are relied upon by national and international elites to embed peace processes. Alongside this my ethnography also witnessed anger and a sense of betrayal generating a new wave of women-led protests which threaten to become sources of renewed grievance that damage already slim hopes of reconciliation among communities, and between the state and its Tamil citizens. In discussing the paradoxes and synergies between these experiences, this paper addresses the complex issues around gender and post conflict reconstruction in the context of Sri Lanka. The primary concern of this paper thus is to survey the interplay of gender and post conflict processes allied with the recognition that women must be central to the transformative potential of the post conflict terrain.

Topics: Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Peace Processes Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2018

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