Meghalaya rebel group now has women’s armed wing

Shillong, May 26 (IANS) The breakaway faction of the A’chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC-B), a rebel outfit in Meghalaya, has raised a women’s militant wing to fight crime against women.

“We are Garo women joining the ANVC (B) to be safe. Many women are raped outside, but the ANVC (B) is safe for women and we are trained to defend ourselves from men,” said Silan Ginchi Marak, the women’s military wing chief of ANVC-B.

The women rebels, numbering around 300, are located in two undisclosed camps at Garo Hills in western Meghalaya.

Significantly, several groups and women activists have been raising a hue and cry against the growing cases of crime against women in this mountainous state, traditionally known for its matrilineal society and respect accorded to women.

Stating that the women cadres are ready to protect the women of the Garo Hills region and free them from “fear”, Marak said: “Women are weak but we are not weak anymore. We are ready to protect women of Garo Hills. People rape woman and we take action against men because a woman is the mother of Meghalaya.”

“Without women, Meghalaya is not Meghalaya. Meghalaya must protect women from rape. We are strong and trained women. We are not allowed to kill people but we are helping Garo women to be free from fear. Our leaders are our fathers. They protect us from all danger,” she added.

ANVC-B chairman Bernard Marak alias Rimpu N. Marak said that the women’s armed wing of the ANVC-B was raised with the objective of protecting womenfolk, and to ensure their safety and security in Garo Hills.

The ANVC-B is a splinter group of the ANVC, which has been observing a tripartite ceasefire with the central and Meghalaya governments for nine years.

“We are concerned about the rising crime against women. The women’s armed wing will take up matters relating to crimes against women across Garo Hills as per the traditional laws of the Garo community,” Marak told IANS over phone from an undisclosed location.

Meghalaya government statistics reveal that in 2012, 236 crimes were reported against women, of which 158 were rapes.

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