An ethnic armed group from Manipur, Northeast India, the Kuki National Organization (KNO), affirmed its policy to strictly prohibit and punish any act of sexual violence perpetrated by its members. It made its commitment concrete by signing Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment prohibiting sexual violence and against gender discrimination on 22 March 2015.
This signature must be considered as a preventive as well as an exemplary measure in a country where acts of sexual violence are unfortunately common. In 2013 alone, 33,707 cases of rape against women, which is only one form of sexual violence, were reported in India’s National Crime Records Bureau.
According to KNO spokesperson, Seilen Haokip, “Sexual violence is not tolerated within the organization. There was one case back in 2005 where a cadre raped a woman. Following verification, severe action was taken against him. KNO is pleased to sign these Deeds and advance our work with Geneva Call to further these efforts.” He went on to add that male and female cadres have equal status within the organization. The commitment was signed by Kimneao Hangshing, Secretary Women and Children, and TS Haokip, Defence Secretary.
In addition to this commitment, the KNO also signed the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict. By signing this Deed, it commits to ban the use of children in hostilities and better protect them from conflict related violence. The KNO is the second armed group in India to make this commitment.
“Sexual violence in India has been a major issue over the past few years and still is today, and it’s very positive to see that armed groups are taking concrete preventive measures to eliminate it. Such engagement, as well as the decision to better protect children have to be recognized and supported,” added Katherine Kramer, Programme Director for Asia.
Geneva Call will provide training material to support the group’s efforts to disseminate the obligations of the Deeds to its rank-and-file.