Saturday, 20 February 2016 17:08

Healing Workshop For War Widows

Under its project Post-Conflict Healing: A Women’s Manifesto, NPC held a healing workshop in the Hambantota district for widows, mothers and sisters of soldiers who died in the war.

The project aims to mobilise women to take an active part in community healing, to establish lasting peace and to increase the participation of women in the process of post conflict transition.

The manifesto will articulate women’s perspective of transition from post-conflict to peace and translate their perspectives of this transition into action. The project is funded by FOKUS women.

In order to achieve these aims, various healing activities are being held in nine districts. The activities are based on the tenets of Transitional Justice, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report and recommendations and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.

Thirty eight women participated in the workshop in the Hambantota district that was held with the support NPC’s partner organisation, Ruhunu Rural Women’s Organisation, which has been working with the widows, mothers and sisters of soldiers. Some of the women were cultivators while others were seamstresses and traders. Many of them had to look after elderly relatives after they finished work.

Several women spoke about the attitude towards war widows in society and how these attitudes translated into harassment and withdrawal of support for the vulnerable women. War affected women and their children were perceived as unprotected and thus easy prey. As they became war widows and headed households, they lost support from in-laws as well as from their own families. This was an indicator of the stigma surrounding war widows and female headed households.

The women also shared grievances over not receiving the right benefits as war widows. They also wanted counselling for the trauma they suffered.

The participants were eager to share their stories and hardships. It was evident that they were still suffering and needed psychosocial help. They were also in need of financial assistance to bring up their children.