Frustrated and Confused: Mapping the Socio-political Struggles of Female Ex-combatants in Nepal

Journal article

Upreti, Bishnu Raj; Sharmila Shivakoti & Kohinoor Bharati (2018) Frustrated and Confused: Mapping the Socio-political Struggles of Female Ex-combatants in Nepal, Journal of International Women's Studies 19 (4): 32–52.

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The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) declared an armed insurrection against the State in February 1996; they began to attack police posts and gradually the insurrection was sparked all over the country, lasting for ten years. Consequently, it caused 17,886 deaths, 7,9571 displacements, 1,530 disappearance, 3,142 abductions, 8,935 disabilities, and left 620 children orphaned (MoPR 2016). In the armed conflict 20 percent of Maoist combatants were women. After several rounds of negotiations, the armed conflict ended in November 2006, with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of Nepal and the then Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) that demanded disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of the Maoist ex-combatants. Among the ex-combatants the DDR process for reintegrating female ex-combatants was more complicated. This paper examines the DDR process with a specific focus on ex-combatants. Focus group interviews, key informant interviews, roundtable discussions, and direct interviews with the female- ex-combatants were the methods used in collecting data, in addition to secondary sources. This paper argues that the DDR was not only contested, but also procedurally flawed, and therefore not able to produce the desired result. Because the DDR was a complex, socio-psychological and politico-economic process and required sensitive handling, key Nepali actors and international supporters failed to properly deal with the DDR. The DDR process was largely gender-blind and therefore, the female ex-combatants suffered more in terms of their social relations, specific needs and achieving livelihood security. The approach of United Mission to Nepal (UNMIN) was one of the reasons; consequently, its engagement was terminated without completing the DDR process mainly because it failed to internalize gender sensitivity and local complexity.

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