Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Girl power

Now that the royal army has decided to recruit female soldiers, the idea has become a matter for discussion. The move came after the 'People's War' became a national issue and a threat to the old regime. The first reason for the army's recruitment is to arrest the increasing participation of women in the people's war. The second is to use the ladies as a lure to control committed Maoist fighters and to either distract them from their mission or make them surrender. The third is to provide employment to women of the families who are against this and have been displaced from their villages. The fourth is in line with the global practice of having women in the army.

Women are not forced into the People's Liberation Army. They don't join for any practical or short-term reasons. The fact is the women make the biggest segment of the population in downtrodden communities. They are found in every family, house, community, region, religion and language.

Where there is oppression, there will be revolt. Since women have suffered class and sexual oppression, they have double the capacity to revolt. This why the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) recruited them. After our third expanded meeting nine years ago, we made it mandatory to have two women in each of our fighting, security and volunteer teams. Unlike the royal army's scheme to attract females with money, position and facilities, our women are recruited on the basis principles and ideals.

They were introduced to reality: women are the most deprived in the existing feudal system, despite their vital role in Nepal's agroeconomy. They are denied parental property although they run their households on their own when their husbands are away earning money. When the men return, they marry other women and the wives are forced to leave. Under such circumstances, when these women marry someone else, they become outcasts. This is how the feudal system protects criminals and victimises those already made victims. The CPN (Maoist) is reversing this feudal practice through its people's war.

It is leading the new revolution to implement ideas like equal rights for parental property and tillers as landowners. Women are fascinated with this change. The people's war has liberated women who otherwise had to spend their lives solely on domestic matters. Because of Hindu philosophy, girls are married off at an early age. They become grandmothers even before they reach menopause.

The people's war has brought women out of that vicious cycle of living as a reproductive machine. The movement has taken them to different parts of the country. Rural women, who were once deprived of their rights, are now at the forefront of the people's war, fighting as commanders. Now, women are deciding not only when they live but also when they die.

Female participation is increasing in the People's Liberation Army. Their numbers are growing also because of repression and the physical violations of the so-called Armed Police Force and the royal army. Women who join the people's war are not only from the general mass but also from other political parties. In such a situation, the condition of women in the royal army will be counterproductive.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)