Women explode from traditional society
Three years ago, 16-year-old Jagari Baske vanished from a remote village in the Indian state of West Bengal. But unlike most girls her age who suddenly flee their homes in the country’s conservative countryside, she was not eloping with a boyfriend opposed by her family. Instead, Baske ran away to join Maoist rebels who claim to be fighting for the rights of the rural dispossessed but who have been responsible for a wave of killings this year as they step up their battle with the state.
Now 19, Baske is described by security forces as a dangerous foe. "Jagari is fearless and a crackshot," said a senior intelligence official in West Bengal’s capital, Kolkata. "She is ruthless and has taken part in dozens of Maoist attacks in the last two years."
Food for thought there for those opposed to women in Western militaries. You've got one of the most patriarchal, restrictive-to-women states on earth, and women are emerging from it as fighters, warriors even you might say.
Lest anyone should think I'm celebrating this, I stress that such extremes usually only emerge from societies under extreme pressure, and societies where many other women are suffering horribly without rebelling. As this report says:
Poverty among the region’s traditionally marginalised tribal people-who make up many of the movement’s guerrillas and sympathisers-is a major factor in driving women into the hands of the Maoists in a matrilineal society where mothers and wives play the dominant role in managing families. "Most of them cannot afford one square meal," says Ajay Nand, police superintendent in Maoist-infested West Midnapore district of West Bengal. "With money and food assured, some women do not think twice about joining the rebels.
And as the Cambodia Killing Fields demonstrated all too clearly, when you allow such pressure to build up, nasty events tend to explode.