The South Asian Region is severely affected by long term inter-state tensions and internal conflicts which have caused long lasting effects on political stability, economic development, governance and the respect for human rights in all countries of the region. Consequently, pre-existing gender inequality, increased access to small arms, the destruction of justice systems, the breakdown of social mores and community protection systems, and the general impunity and deprivation which accompanies conflict, women and girls are often both targeted for specific forms of violence as part of military strategy, and suffer from an exacerbation of forms of violence that they have endured in peacetime. This violence entails more than the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war. It encompasses increased domestic violence, trafficking, survival sex and greater exposure to sexual exploitation by humanitarians and peacekeepers. In addition, forced early marriage and other harmful traditional practices, attacks on women’s human rights defenders and journalists, and other violations of rights have gender-specific impacts, such as forced displacement, family separation, withholding of humanitarian assistance, and loss of property, livelihood and land.
Keeping in mind that the gender inequality and abuse is a great deterrence to development and a long term threat to peace, security and stability it is essential that women’s perspectives become a part of the overall discourse on peace and security in the region. Women’s empowerment and a well informed gender perspective will not only strengthen initiatives on peace and security, but will improve the ability to face the challenges of the conflict and post-conflict situations at all levels, national, regional and international. In this context, it is necessary that a regional discourse be initiated on the human rights implications of internal conflict and inter-state tensions surrounding thee conflicts in South Asia. Women should be a part of the consultation on peace and security and not be drawn into a parallel stream of initiatives on mediation and peace negotiations, reparation programmes, including transitional justice and effective post-conflict monitoring in order to sustain peace.
The South Asian region is well provided with expertise on human rights as well as on social, economic and political dimensions of peace and security. SAHR proposes to hold a series of consultations to review and analyze the political and other dimensions of the security crisis in South Asia and to make recommendations that not only bring a better prospective for peace, but ensure that human rights and the rule of law are fully respected during conflict and are fully reflected in the design of all national or regional initiatives, whether undertaken by governments or civil society actors.