Author(s): Achu Johnson ALEXANDER ; Jeffrey Jensen ARNETT ; S. P. K. JENA
Since 1988, persecuted people primarily from the Chin state in Burma have fled into India due to large-scale human rights violations. A qualitative study was conducted to understand the narratives of 5 Burmese Chin refugee women retrospectively. Using their drawings as a stimulus, an unstructured interview was employed to help participants recall their life trajectories across 4 temporal periods: (a) preflight, (b) experience of traumatic events, (c) experience of flight, and (d) present status. Results highlighted 2 main concepts—systemic gender inequalities and hope. Participants’ gender-specific experiences of inequalities during their trauma in Burma and postdisplacement lives in India were a result of masculinized ideological frameworks of institutions such as the Burmese military and the Indian police. Simultaneously, they described a sense of hope to return to their home country and work toward its development while also desiring a sense of self-sufficiency through the Burmese model of family economy. Additionally, their means of hope was evident in their continued faith in God. Findings merit the attention of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), local nongovernmental organizations, policymakers, and government officials in India for proposing gender-specific policies and suggesting initiatives for psychosocial issues related to women refugees’ employment opportunities, vulnerability to sexual abuse, and local xenophobic sentiments in India.
Tags: Myanmar, India, Women, Refugees, Traumatic life events, Sexual violence, Discrimination, Employment, Gender-based differences, Premigration, Postmigration