Hidden Dimensions of Conflict in Sri Lanka: Case Studies of War Widows and Wives of ‘the disappeared , Ｎｅｌｕｎ Ｇｕｎａｓｅｋｅｒａ Ｇｅｎｄｅｒ Ｓｐｅｃｉａｌｉｓｔ ＡＤＢ ＳＬＲＭ Ｏｃｔｏｂｅｒ ２００５
War widow Sinhala Ethnic conflict Wife of ‘the disappeared’ Tamil Ethnic conflict Ｃａｓｅ Ｓｔｕｄｉｅｓ
Ｓｏｃｉａｌ ｉｍｐｌｉｃａｔｉｏｎｓ ｏｆ ｗｉｄｏｗｈｏｏｄＳｏｃｉａｌ ｉｍｐｌｉｃａｔｉｏｎｓ ｏｆ ｗｉｄｏｗｈｏｏｄ • 3 life stages for women – childhood, marriage, widowhood • Loss of social and cultural identity and value in society • Myths and perceptions – considered to be unlucky, social outcast, seen as unfulfilled [as opposed to being married] • Dependence on children, other family members.
Ｗａｒ ｗｉｄｏｗｓ • Female heads of households • Usually young and with young children • Social stigma • Some face rejection by in-laws • Some face issues of inheritance of husband’s property/assets/entitlements • Vulnerable to sexual exploitation • New gender roles and responsibilities • Coping with trauma of event and bereavement • lack of support services/mechanisms – for trauma, child care, economic/livelihood activities.
Ｗｉｖｅｓ ｏf ‘the disappeared’ - ‘the disappeared’: = another category of conflict victims – from both the Southern Insurrection [1989 – 90] and the ethnic conflict = no body/bodies are found to prove death = now after 1 yr. – the wife has legal remedies to have status as a widow and get compensation and some limited social assistance.
Ｗｉｖｅｓ ｏf ‘the disappeared’ contd. - de facto head of household - usually with young children • ambiguous social status • inability to perform rituals/funeral rites to demonstrate transfer of civil status from wife to widow • Trauma of loss and uncertainty • Lack of closure
Ｗｉｖｅｓ ｏf ‘the disappeared’ contd. • Recasting of gender roles and responsibilities – uncertainty of temporary ore permanent situation • Coping with changed social status and social stigma • Lack of definite social identity and status • Vulnerable to sexual exploitation • Specificity of situation unrecognized. ---------