IMPHAL, December 3: Notwithstanding that we are living in a democratic country with provisions of fundamental rights and duties, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 has reduced all such provisions ineffective in Manipur, which has somewhat created an ethnic alienation for the communities of the state from other states of the country outside the north-eastern region, secretary New Life Foundation secretary L Pishak Singh said.
He was addressing a discussion on armed conflict and its impact on women and children at Manipur Press Club in connection with the observance of the International Fortnight Protesting Violence against Women.
There are no proper welfare schemes like free medical services available for the children, due to lack of governance and the lack of political will on the part of the state government, he said.
Elaborating that Manipur has a lot of trafficking victims, he said around 370 children mainly from the 14-18 year group were found trafficked from the state so far, he said.
The gradual rise in drug abuse amongst the youth; and the early marriage which have been adversely affecting the youth and the society need proper checking, he said.
Considering all these issues, there is an urgent need to do something in order to safeguard both the youths and their future interest, he said.
He further opined on the need for people to be aware of whether the government has been properly implementing the welfare schemes.
The NGOs and other civil organisations should also look into the problems faced by widows, he said.
Gangarani, advisor Conflict Widow Forum; advocate W Basanta, Human Rights Alert; Irengbam Arun, Senior Journalist, M Sobita WAD secretary and L Pishak Singh sectary New Life Foundation attended as presidium members.
Speaking on the role of media in responding to VAW in the context of the armed conflict and AFSPA, 1958, senior journalist Irengbam Arun lamented that the media persons of the state have failed to take their major responsibility of doing follow-up stories on major issues like child trafficking and women issues.
He said that woman especially widows are suppressed and looked down in our society. The society needs to reconsider all such social norms which look down on woman, he opined.
AFSPA has only added to the woes of the people, he said.
Children who are rescued from traffickers always turn out to be from the poorer section of the society, he said and as such, the Social Welfare Department needs to look after not only the rescued children, but the whole family as well.
There is also a need for social movement of the public and to uproot the problems at the earliest, he said.
He further elaborated on the conflict situation between the government and underground armed outfits with the media being in the middle.