The Caged Spirit Sings

Tibetan women in exile gag themselves with silk scarves given by China to guests at the FWCW opening ceremonies and stage a silent vigil in the pouring rain on the second day of the NGO forum, to symbolize China’s silencing of Tibetan women’s voices. Photo Carole Samdup CTC
The Incarceration of Tibetan Women and the Barriers to Peace, Development and Gender Justice:

“There is a rich history of women’s activism in response to policies and conditions that threaten family and community survival. At the same time we must remain cognizant of the tremendous constraints women face as local struggles intersect with global forces and states abandon their marginal citizenry.” Janet L. Finn

This paper will explore how the Tibetan Women’s Movement of 1959, mobilising some 15,000 unarmed women opposing the violent occupation of their country by Communist Chinese, became the catalyst for Tibetan women’s contribution as agents of social change and peace building. A unique feature of the non-violent resistance was the diversion created with the overriding motivation to protect the Dalai Lama escaping into exile. This paper explores three key questions: (1) How the physical and spiritual incarceration of Tibetan women has conversely empowered women’s solidarity and struggle within their movement, (2) Why the current policies implemented by the Chinese government within Tibet continue to be a structural impediment to their advancement, and (3) How the agency of Tibetan women has informed wider spheres of peace-building and human rights discourse.

The paper will be informed by development and eco-feminist theories espoused by Amartya Sen, Vandana Shiva et al., shedding light upon feminist concepts in the context of the Tibetan Women’s movement. This research explores whether such theories have had relevance and impact on the movement and to what degree, taking nationalism, cultural relativism and the conditions of exile into account. The notion of power as theorised by Michel Foucault and Johan Galtung’s theories of structural violence will also be analysed in relation to local and global forces that intersect with the agency of Tibetan women.

To assess and comprehend the barriers confronting women within occupied Tibet and in exile, two case studies are cited: first; the obstacles of the Tibetan Women’s Delegation to participate in the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women, and second; the agency of Tibetan women lobbying the World Bank in 1999 to withdraw from a massive development project in Tibet that threatened community survival and Tibet’s fragile ecosystem. Experiences of the most respected heroines (pamo) of the Tibetan Women’s Movement will inform the analysis relevant to the intersections of gender, development and peace. The Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) has helped sustain and strengthen the women’s movement in exile, consistently lobbying for the voices of Tibetan women to be considered in the international dialogue on the status of women through empowerment and participation. I will cite relevant initiatives that have empowered Tibetan women to carry on their cultural legacy with the Buddhist principles and practices of non-violence, embodied and nurtured through their enduring efforts.

Having analysed the structural impediments to peace facing Tibetan women under occupation and in exile, including the feminisation of poverty, evidence of gender-specific torture, discriminatory practices such as virginity testing and forced sterilisation, draws conclusions that despite marked improvements, the Western Development Strategy and policies vis a vis women inside Tibet, have not benefited Tibetan women to the extent that the Chinese Government attest to today. Empirical evidence underpinning this research suggests that the Tibetan people are carrying the model for our collective humanity in creating a society based on peace and non-violence. This idea invites us to imagine a world cultivating a culture of “justpeace”[1], by practicing and preserving this model illuminated by the Tibetan people, with cognizance that they must never lose sight of realising their right to freedom.

“Under the indomitable leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, we call on our people and our women from all walks of life to be the force for profound change, to be the fundamental foundation of our struggle for freedom, to be the agents of our own destiny and to strive always to make our goals into reality.”  Tibetan Women’s Association Statement, March 12, 2009.[2]


In 1959, up to 15,000 unarmed Tibetan women mobilised in front of the Potala Palace in Tibet’s capital Lhasa, to oppose the violent occupation of their country by Communist Chinese. Realising the gravity of the situation, Tibetan women expressed a deep sense of patriotism and unwavering courage, which ultimately led to their historic struggle for freedom.[3] In Rosemary Rawcliffe’s Women of Tibet; A Quiet Revolution,[4] the Dalai Lama states, “this impressive demonstration was one of the greatest movements of non-violent resistance in modern history and regardless of Tibetan women having no knowledge of international politics or the feminist movement in the outside world, out of courage they organised themselves to defend Tibet and the Dharma.” Jetsun Pema, the Dalai Lama’s sister recalls in Tibet: My Story[5];


Women in traditional Tibet enjoyed an exceptional degree of independence. And furthermore as a general rule, Tibetan women always held a high social position. It was perhaps less high than that demanded by feminist movements in Western countries, but better than in many Asian countries.


Emerging in the outside world––the feminist movement would take hold much later, where an acceptance of women’s difference and the “universalist”[6] presumptions of shared women’s experience would later be challenged through varied cultural lenses. Kumari Jayawardena, who explored feminism and nationalism would argue how women in Asia have fought collectively against subordination from the late 19th Century onwards.[7] Tibetan women’s status is enshrined within the principles and practices of Tibetan Buddhism, cultural relativism and shaped to some extent by the conditions of exile. Yangdol Panglung points out that, “women’s struggles in Tibet are part of a nationalist movement, not a women’s liberation movement.”[8] The Tibetan Women’s Association also accentuates that the issue of justice for Tibetan women and Tibetan people cannot be separated. “It is one in the same because the main obstacle to the fulfilment of women’s equality, development and peace in Tibet is the forcible occupation of our country and the conditions that has created.”[9]


A prime example of this argument is illustrated through the overriding motivation of the Tibetan women in safeguarding the life of the Dalai Lama above all else, helping facilitate his escape into exile after the 1959 uprising. On March 10 amidst the demonstrations of the people’s uprising, four aristocratic women[10] led bravely by a Tibetan Official’s wife, Serong (Kundeling) Kunsang,[11] referred to by Tibetans as the “Tibetan Joan of Arc,” agreed they must mobilise to oppose the Chinese hostilities. The women emerged on March 12, marching peacefully around Lhasa with their children in arms, appealing for help from the Indian Consul General and the Bhutanese and Nepalese Missions. Their demonstrations created a diversion, allowing the Dalai Lama to flee Tibet, as concerns for his safety grew. Soon after, the Chinese opened fire on the Dalai Lama’s summer palace, Norbulingka. Thousands of women were massacred, arrested and executed without trials in the ensuing violence,[12] but the women did not surrender until they heard that the Dalai Lama had escaped Tibet safely by March 17.[13] Through the sacrifices they made providing the resistance, the women of Tibet would become the architects in rebuilding the Tibetan community in exile, establishing what would become one of the most active women’s associations in the world[14]––while ensuring the transmission of their cultural legacy to the future generation of Tibetans. After 50 years of occupation, Tibetan women inside Tibet continue to participate in high numbers in the non-violent struggle against China’s illegal occupation. Consequently, they suffer particular brutality at the hands of the Chinese authorities.

“A violent structure leaves marks not only on the human body but also on the mind and the spirit.” Johan Galtung[15]

Murder in the Snow

On September 2006, Kelsang Namtso, a seventeen-year-old nun awaited a brutal fate as she embarked on the arduous trek across the 5,800 metre Nangpa la Pass between Tibet and Nepal, made by up to 4, 000[16] Tibetans each year––seeking refuge from oppression. As Kalsang dreamt of a life of freedom beyond Tibet’s borders, her love and unwavering devotion to the Dalai Lama, shared by all Tibetans––empowered her with the courage to make such a perilous escape. What drives the Tibetans to make such a journey? Equal access to education, to practice religious freedom and exercise their most basic human rights that Tibetans have been denied for the past half a century under the draconian policies of the CCP––are just a few reasons Tibetans are compelled to leave. Kalsang Namtso’s journey came to a tragic end, when she was shot dead in cold-blood in the snow by Chinese border police only metres from the Nepalese border––as freedom awaited her and others within arm’s reach on the other side of the mountain. What makes this story unique to the thousands of other Tibetans who risk their lives to escape what is often described as “the world’s largest prison,” is under serendipitous conditions the murder was witnessed by international mountain climbers––moral outrage prompting only a few of them to broadcast the story to the world and in doing so, withdrawing consent to the one-dimensional use of power[17] executed by the CCP. For the first time in history, an incident was witnessed, and documented on film[18] of the brutal treatment of Tibetans escaping into exile––highlighting the structural and cultural violence,[19] imbedded within and exercised by the state––defended under the guise of “the peaceful liberation” of Tibetan people. As Kelsang lay dying in the snow and her body kicked inhumanely by police not much older than herself, little did she know that her story would come to symbolise the ongoing suffering and violence against Tibetan people rife in the 21st Century and the barriers they still face 50 years since the brave resistance of their sisters. Within this tragedy Michel Foucault’s theory[20], asserting the notion of power as “constraining and enabling at the same time,” suggests with sad irony, that Kalsang’s story is perhaps the most incriminating source of recent evidence against the Chinese state inflicting “direct”[21] violence against Tibetan women constituting crimes against humanity.


Article 2 of the Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests revised by the Chinese Government in 2005 highlighting gender equality, rights and interests of females in China states that; “discrimination against, maltreatment of, or cruel treatment in any manner causing bodily injury to or death of women shall be prohibited.”[22] Kalsang’s murder has galvanised Tibetan women with the same fervour as the first heroines of the women’s movement, her case highlights serious failures on behalf of the Chinese government to honour the commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Beijing Declaration.


“We sing a song of sadness – we sing it from Drapchi Prison, with our joy and happiness high as the snowy peaks, we sing exercising our freedom to sing.The Drapchi Nuns[23]

Songs of Suffering

Tibetan nuns have spearheaded the independence movement and are revered for their leadership in uprisings. It is estimated in TWA’s Alternative Report on the Status of Tibetan Women[24] in 2006 that 80 percent of political prisoners incarcerated in Tibet are nuns.[25] Oral accounts indicate that nuns have been targeted for “gender-specific” systematic torture. The United Nations General Assembly describes violence against women as; “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, psychological, or sexual harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”[26]


Female political prisoners are stripped naked, and tortured with sticks and electric cattle prods, forcibly inserted into their mouths, vaginas and anuses, deprived of sleep, raped, beaten and denied access to medical treatment.[27] Incarcerated in occupied Tibet’s most notorious penal institution, Drapchi prison[28], fourteen nuns who later become known collectively as the Drapchi 14, sent a message of defiance and hope to the world In June 1993, when a tape recorder was secretly smuggled into the prison allowing the nuns to record their songs of “faith and dedication, of suffering and resistance,” which eventually reached the underground movement in Lhasa and broadcast to the world. The haunting recordings were witnessed by the world first hand of the torture and suffering defining daily life for Tibet’s political prisoners. Due to their defiance, the Drapchi 14 consequently had their sentences doubled or tripled by singing their pro-independence songs.[29]


The torture suffered by female political prisoners is often sexual in nature, aimed at destroying the spirit of the Tibetan women. The shame involved for nuns after torture is dehumanising and if they are released, a large number are compelled to leave the nunneries as they feel they are no longer pure, and thus the important role that religion plays in Tibetan culture is being systematically eroded. Many Tibetan nuns such as the heroine, Ngawang Sangdrol[30] who served lengthy prison sentences were only released due to pressure from public appeals. The physical and spiritual incarceration of these women has conversely strengthened a generation of courageous women whose voices have resonated out of Tibet’s prisons and into the outer-world with conviction and hope for freedom and justice.

“Tibetan women carried a big part of the culture as well as being deeply committed to their own spiritual path. In Vajrayana (Buddhism), in the deepest sense there is no separation between the masculine and the feminine.” Rosemary Rawcliffe [31]

“The Quiet Revolution”

In Tibet: My Story, Jetsun Pema salutes Tibetan women, “who with extraordinary courage, at the Fourth United Nations Conference on Women, reminded the whole world of the real situation of our fellow countrymen in Tibet.”[32] In 1993, TWA campaigned assertively for the right to attend the Fourth United Nations Conference on Women in 1995.[33] The Conference was convened by the United Nations in Beijing, 1995 with the aim of assessing the progress since the Nairobi World Conference on Women in 1985, and to adopt a “Platform for Action,” concentrating on key issues identified as obstacles to the advancement of women in the world.[34] Tibetan women agree that the Beijing Declaration has immense relevance to Tibetan women, however as they are divided by foreign occupation, they are simply not able to support each other in practical ways and implement the priorities of the BPFA.[35] The TWA’s alternative report on the status of women states; “as longs as China defies international law and continues its gross human rights violations against Tibetan women living in Tibet, the BPFA will have no practical relevance for Tibetan women.”[36] The Beijing Declaration’s aim according to UNIFEM[37] is, “to ensure the full implementation of the human rights of women and of the girl-child and advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of humanity.”[38]


On September 1st, 1995 Tibetan nationalism and international feminism intersected, when nine exiled Tibetan women attended the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing where they staged a demonstration. The Women’s Delegation (TWD) staged a defining act of peaceful protest––a silent vigil in the pouring rain, dressed in black, they gagged themselves symbolically with silk scarves that were given as gifts during the opening ceremony, hands linked together, they demanded the immediate cessation of all forms of violence against women.[39] In Feminism, Nationalism and Exiled Tibetan Women Alex Butler wrote, “from a Tibetan perspective, the women had created history by becoming the first Tibetans ever to hold a protest on Chinese soil. Moreover, the presence of the international media ensured that the event would receive wide coverage and that the women would not be arrested.”[40] Although TWA exiled members living in India were denied visas and barred from attending, the preparations for Beijing initiated the long road to gaining international awareness and support of Tibetan women’s perspectives, and were essential for the success of the TWD in Beijing.[41] In March 2010 in New York, the Commission on the Status of Women will undertake a fifteen-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly. Emphasis will be placed on “overcoming remaining obstacles and new challenges, including those related to the Millennium Development Goals.”[42] A press release by TWA on the event of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 2008 states; “the denial or suspension of these rights harms not only the victims of this violence, but hinders the great project of global peace.”[43]





“The frontlines of modern warfare are no longer in trenches or battlefields but in homes, communities and the bodies of women.” [44] The Elders

“State Owned” Womb

The status of Tibetan women must be seen in terms of human rights dimensions of gender violence and inequality.[45] Although Tibet remains one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world[46] Tibetan women are subjected to severe and coercive family planning measures.[47] TWA appeals to the world to join them in their fight for justice and freedom, not only in Tibet but in any regimes across the world “where a women’s body is ruled by the state.”[48]


In the mid 1980s, the Chinese authorities began implementing family planning policies in Tibetan communities.[49] Tibetan women are subjected to a wide range of reproductive rights violations. Since FWCW[50], there has been little change, if not a decline in their situation. It has been determined that in the area of reproductive rights, the violation of the convention is so grave––there is a possibility that the Tibetan people and culture will be destroyed within the coming century.[51]


The growing amount of evidence collected since 1995 regarding reproductive rights violations suggests that the aim of such practices can only be to reduce the size of the Tibetan population. A governing body of medical professionals makes decisions about Tibetan women’s reproductive rights, without any consultation with the woman or her family. Policies documented include: forced sterilisation without anaesthetic, virginity testing, monitoring menstrual cycles, infanticide, coercive use of birth control and harsh fines or imprisonment for non-compliance.[52] For instance, it is estimated that between four and 20 percent of Tibetan women can no longer reproduce due to forced sterilisation[53]





“Violence, power and ecological distribution are intimately linked. As life processes are rendered valueless, and their sundering becomes the source of the creation of value and wealth.”[54] Vandana Shiva


Development as Freedom

Freedom is an inherently diverse concept as is peace. In this section I will focus on the notion of freedom from the perspective and interpretation of Tibetan Buddhist women within Tibet and in the diaspora. In Buddhist tradition, great importance is attached to freedom. Nobility of conduct has to be achieved in freedom, and even the ideas of “liberation”[55] have this feature.[56] The Nobel Prize Laureate and scientific economist Amartya Sen’s theories have particular relevance to this study. Sen defines development as, “a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy,” and furthermore––requires the removal of major sources of ‘unfreedom’: “poverty as well as tyranny, poor economic opportunities as well as systematic social deprivation, neglect of public facilities as well as intolerance or overactivity of repressive states.”[57] The violation of Tibetans’ freedom results directly from; a denial of political and civil liberties by an authoritarian regime and from imposed restrictions on the freedom to participate in the social, political and economic life of the community.[58] According to Sen, freedom is central to the process of development for two distinct reasons; 1) The evaluative reason: assessment of progress has to be done primarily in terms of whether the freedoms that people have are enhanced; and 2) The effectiveness reason: achievement of development is thoroughly dependent on the free agency of people.[59]


There is a rich history of Tibetan women’s activism in response to policies and conditions that have denied such freedoms and threatened community survival.


The Chinese word for Tibet, Xizang means “the western treasure house.”[60] Since 1950, there has been a large-scale influx of Han Chinese into resource-rich Tibet with figures revealing that the population of Han Chinese in Tibet is 7.5 million and in comparison the Tibetan population 6 million.[61]


A report by TCHRD[62] in 2005 in relation to development in Tibet concluded that, “the population transfer taking place in Tibet is tantamount to a form of “structural violence” as it effects the composition of a community, their access to a means of livelihood and their identity.”[63] A more elaborate definition of structural violence as experienced by Tibetans, is described by peace theorist Johan Galtung as; “the structures in our lives that impinge upon our personal freedoms that are learned, inbuilt and socially conditioned, and given its indirect and insidious nature––it works slowly in eroding human values and shortening life spans.”[64] The transfer of civilians by an occupying power into the territory it occupies is a violation of international law according to Article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention, 1949[65]. This policy poses the biggest threat to the survival of the Tibetan people and nation. Gabriel Lafitte[66], a development policy consultant argues that despite large state investments into Tibet, “Tibet would still rank at the very bottom of the UN’s list of nations (if it were a nation), along with countries like Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and Mozambique.” The economic impact of Chinese development on the life of Tibetans may be gauged by assessing the following recent available statistics:


  • TAR has a significantly higher maternal mortality rate than China – 20 percent per 10, 000 compared to 6 percent per 10,000[67]
  • Of 12, 827 shops and restaurants in Lhasa, only 300 are Tibetan owned[68]
  • According to UNICEF, illiteracy rate is 73 percent in Tibet in comparison with 31 percent in China[69]
  • 33 percent of all Tibetan children receive no education at all compared to 1.5 percent of Chinese children who go uneducated[70]





There is a conflict between Tibetans and Chinese over the definition of “development.” For Tibetans, “prosperity is more about freedoms such as religious belief, a respect for people, a respect for life, the kind of prosperity you get from extending charity to others.”[71] China’s white paper on ethnic policy states, “The state is convinced that quickening the social and economic development of minority areas is the fundamental solution to China’s issues.” The limited priority given to soft infrastructure such as health, education, and local human capacity building that would enable more local employment and participation, indicate the shortfalls of the “Western Development Strategy” implemented by the Chinese Government in 2000 according to a journal report by the Tibetan Government in Exile.[72]


The year 2000 was an historic year for the agency of Tibetan women on all accounts. A year earlier on June 8th, 1999, the World Bank had approved a USD $160 million loan to support China’s Western Poverty Reduction Project,[73] the first time an international organisation had participated in China’s population transfer policies in Tibet. The persistent lobbying of the Tibetan Women’s Association against the project combined with an international out-cry––forced the World Bank to institute an investigation into its implications and subsequently, they withdrew from the project.[74]


Article I of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development, [75] states:


The right to development is an inalienable human right, by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realised. The human right to development also implies the full realisation of the right of peoples to self-determination, which includes the exercise of their inalienable right to full sovereignty over all their natural wealth and resources.


Tibetans do not support development, which comes at the cost of “loss of inner-consciousness or soul”; destruction of the environment or consumption and use of resources that will deprive future generations of Tibetans.”[76] Akin to Buddhist ethics regarding the earth, Vandana Shiva explains how ecological feminism creates the possibility of viewing the world as an active subject, not merely as a resource to be manipulated and appropriated.[77] “Reductionist science,” she argues of development––is a source of violence against nature and against women, in so far as it subjugates and dispossesses them of their full productivity, power and potential.”[78]

“In order to articulate her specific exploitation, the subaltern woman must create her own language.”[79] Alison Jaggar

Conclusion: The Caged Spirit Sings

Alison Jaggar’s theories of “inclusion discourse” have been a remarkable feature of the United Nations’ Conferences on Women regarding the themes of voice and silencing––a “public language for shared experience,” now evolving. The Dalai Lama closed the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit with a call for a “global promotion of compassion”, with an increased emphasis on the promotion of women to positions of influence.[80] Rosemary Rawcliffe, Director of the 2008 acclaimed tribute to Tibetan women: Women of Tibet Trilogy,[81] describes a widely held theory that illustrates succinctly how and why the agency of Tibetan women will continue to inform wider spheres of peace building, Tibetan women refer to as, “the great global project of peace.”[82]


The Tibetans are carrying the model for our collective humanity when it comes to creating a society based on peace and non-violence. They’ve been doing it for fifty years in exile. I am fixed on the idea that if we lose the Tibetans, we lose the model they carry for us in a way that no one else is carrying at the moment. Imagine a planet without the possibility of peace and non-violence. I strongly believe that if we allow the Tibetan culture to be lost, we will lose a part of our humanity.


The world has much to gain from considering the non-violent perspective of Tibetan Buddhist culture. Tibetan women exemplify a model of ethical leadership and continue to adhere to the philosophy and practice of non-violence in solving conflicts. In Feminism, Nationalism and Exiled Tibetan Women,[83] Alex Butler asserts that the empowerment of Tibetan women is, “imbued with a positive and symbolic meaning.”


To echo the main argument aforementioned in this paper, the greatest obstacle to the fulfillment of gender equality, development and peace for Tibetan women is rooted in the forcible occupation of their country, of their bodies and their spirits––and the conditions that has created. Tibetan women, like all women throughout the world, should have the “inalienable” right to control their bodies and be agents of their own destiny. As long as China controls the Tibetan economy to serve the interests and needs of the Chinese people, Tibetan women will not be able to participate in decision making processes that effect their future lives.[84] Recent statistics indicate that the PRC’s policies abysmally lack rights-based and needs-based[85] approaches to development. Evidently, Tibetan women currently lack decision-making authority, participatory power in the development process and their human development is forsaken.


Until these major sources of “unfreedoms” are removed, the Beijing Declaration will have little practical relevance for Tibetan women and the survival of Tibetan culture and nation is subsequently threatened. These immeasurable challenges defined have directly hindered the efforts of Tibetan women in realising their full potential. To implement the priorities of the Beijing Platform for Action, Tibetan women urge the world; it is necessary to move from “vision” to “action” if we are to build a universal culture of peace.[86]






“No matter how hard the hail and frost, our linked hands will not be separated.” Drapchi Nuns


[1] The term ‘justpeace’ was coined by peace and conflict theorist John Paul Lederach who proposes that by the year 2050, the word justpeace will be accepted in everyday common language and appear in Webster’s Dictionary. 1: An adaptive process-structure of human relationships characterized by high justice and low violence. 2: An infrastructure of organisation or governance that responds to human conflict through non-violent means as first and last resorts. 3: A view of systems as responsive to the permanency and interdependence of relationships and change.1999. In European Centre for Conflict Prevention: People building Peace. pp. 27-36.

[2] See Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA)

[3] See Women of Tibet Carrying on the Culture: An Interview with Rosemary Rawcliffe. Inquiring Mind. Spring Issue, 2008. Accessed 24 September 2009 online

[4] See Frame of Mind Films 2008.

[5] Pema, J. Tibet: My Story: Sister of the Dalai Lama. 1996. London. Element. p 207.

[6] See Globalizing Feminist Ethics in Globalizing Feminist Discourse. Alison M Jaggar. Hypatia, Spring 1998; Vol 13, Iss. 2; pp. 7-28.

[7] ibid. p.18. See also Jayawardena, K. 1986. Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World. London. Zed books.

[8] See Role of Women in the Protest Movement: Status of Tibetan Women. February 1996. Compiled by Tibet Support Group London.

[9] See NGO Alternative Report on the Status of Tibetan Women in Tibet. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. (CEDAW). 2006. New York. Submitted by Tibetan Women’s Association Central Executive Working Committee. Dharamsala. Accessed October 6, 2009.

[10] See Tibet My Story: Sister of the Dalai Lama in The Struggle of Tibetan Women. 1996. London. Element. pp. 205-209.

[11] ibid. Also Women’s Uprising of March 12. In Breaking the Shackles: 50 Years of Tibetan Women’s Struggle. Chapter 2. pp. 7-21. March 2009. Published by Tibetan Women’s Association Central Executive Committee.

[12] ibid.

[13] See Tibetan Women Peace, Development and Equality in Part 2: Tibetan Women under Chinese Occupation,1) the Status of Tibet before 1959. August 21, 1995. Tibetan Government in Exile.

[14] See Press Release: Tibetan Women’s Association honours Fifty Years of Tibetan Women in the Freedom Struggle. March 12, 2009. Accessed October 16, 2009.

[15] Johan Galtung is the principal founder of Peace and Conflict Studies. See Peace by Peaceful Means: Peace and Conflict, Development and Civilization. 1996. London. Sage Publications. p. 199.

[16] See UNHCR Report. Nepal: Information on Tibetans in Nepal. 9 June 2003.,USCIS,,NPL,4562d8cf2,3f51fbfb4,0.html See also International Campaign for Tibet: Dangerous Crossings: Conditions Impacting the Plight of Tibetan Refugees. 2007-2008 Report. Accessed October 6, 2009.

[17] Stuart Rees is Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. See Power Pendulum, Diagram 2:2 in Passion for Peace: Exercising Power Creatively. 2003. UNSW Press. Sydney, Australia. pp. 66-68.

[18] See Tibet: Murder in the Snow. Produced by Sally Ingleton, Directed by Mark Gould in association with Screen Australia and Film Victoria. 2008. 360 Degree Films. Also online:

[19] Cultural Violence includes those aspects of culture, symbolic exemplified by religion, ideology, language and so forth. See also Peace by Peaceful Means: Peace and Conflict, Development and Civilization in Cultural Violence. pp. 196-208.Galtung, J.

[20] Michele Foucault describes the exercise of power is not simply a relationship between partners, individual or collective; it is a way in which certain actions modify others. Which is to say, of course, that something called Power, with or without a capital letter, which is assumed to exist universally in a concentrated or diffused form, does not exist.’ Precisely because it is transcendental, reason is then universally compelling. It can limit the political power field and has therefore a role in opposing domination (i.e. when political power goes beyond its rights). Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. The Subject and Power: Afterword by Michel Foucault.

The Harvester Press. 1982. p. 208.

[21] Direct violence refers to physical violence, beating, killing, verbal and psychological abuse. It is personal, visible, manifest and non-structural, carved over time by traumas left behind by its effects of harming the mind, body and spirit. Galtung, J. 1996. p. 31.

[22] See The Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests in Tears of Silence. Fifth Revised Edition, March 2009. Published by Tibetan Women’s Association. India. p 29.

[23] Excerpt from “We sing a song of sadness.” in Light in the Abyss: the Drapchi Fourteen. March 2009. India. TWA. p. 74.

[24] See NGO Alternative Report on the Status of Tibetan Women in Tibet. (CEDAW). 2006. Tibetan Women’s Association Central Executive Working Committee. Dharamsala, India. Accessed October 6, 2009. Online at:

[25] ibid. p. 4. In Violence Against Tibetan Women.

[26] See International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

[27] ibid: In: Torture. p. 28. Also TWA Alternative Report on the Status of Tibetan Women. 2006. India. Violence Against Tibetan Women. A: Torture.

[28] See Light in the Abyss: The Drapchi Fourteen. March, 2009. Published by Tibetan Women’s Association. India. See also Role of Women in the Protest Movement: Nuns in the Resistance. February 1996. Compiled by Tibet Support Group London.

[29] ibid.

[30] ibid. pp. 9 and 54-56. Ngawang Sangdrol became one of the most prominent Tibetan political prisoners. She was arrested on June 17, 1992 and released from prison on September 2002.

[31] See Women of Tibet Carrying on the Culture: An Interview with Rosemary Rawcliffe. Inquiring Mind. Spring Issue, 2008. Accessed 24 September 2009 online

[32] See Pema, J. Tibet: My Story: Sister of the Dalai Lama in The Voice of Peace. 1996. London. Element. p. 257.

[33] See Butler, A. Feminism, Nationalism and Exiled Tibetan Women. 2003. India. Published by Kali for Women. p. 4.

[34] See Beijing +15 Online: and UNIFEM factsheet: Beijing Platform for Action Online:

[35] ibid.

[36] See NGO Alternative Report on the Status of Tibetan Women in Tibet. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. (CEDAW). 2006. New York. Tibetan Women’s Association. Dharamsala, India. Accessed October 6, 2009.

[37] UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women) promotes women’s human rights, political participation and economic security.

[38] Beijing Platform for Action Online:

[39] See Breaking the Shackles: 50 Years of Tibetan Women’s Struggle in Political Campaigns: The World Conference on Women. March 2009. Published by Tibetan Women’s Association. India. p 55.

[40] ibid. p 2.

[41] ibid. pp. 54-56.

[42] See Beijing Platform for Action Online:

[43] See Press Release. November 25, 2008 in Dolma Magazine. India. Published by Tibetan Women’s Association. p. 10.

[44] See The Elders. Women in Conflict and Peace building online:

[45] ibid. Part 3: The Status of Tibetan women under Chinese Occupation. 3.1: China’s lack of commitment to internationally recognised standards of women’s human rights.

[46] In NGO Alternative Report on the Status of Women. 2006. India. Part 2B: Reproductive Rights Violations. Accessed October 6, 2009. p. 7. TWA.

[47] See Asian Human Rights News. Tibet: Tibetan Women Subjected to Double Oppression by the Tibetan Women’s Association. Accessed October 6, 2009.

[48] Tears of Silence. 2009. Preface: TWA. Dharamsala. India. p. VII.

[49] ibid. B: Violence against Tibetan Women in Reproductive Rights Violations. p. 7.

[50] Fourth World Conference on Women:

[51] ibid.

[52] See Tears of Silence: A Report on China’s Birth Control Policy in Tibet. 2009. TWA. India.

[53] See Asian Human Rights News. Tibet: Tibetan Women Subjected to Double Oppression by the Tibetan Women’s Association. Accessed October 6, 2009.

[54] See Shiva, V and Maria Miles. Ecofeminism in Reductionism and Regeneration: A Crisis in Science. 1993. Melbourne. Spinifex Press. Ch. 2. p. 33.

[55] Liberation described in Tibetan Buddhism: (Sanskrit: Nirvana) is described as freedom; cessation, the end of one’s suffering when the delusions have been removed from the mind, the goal of the Lesser Vehicle. See also enlightenment: Mahayana. From Dear Lama Zopa: Radical Solutions for Transforming Problems into Happiness.

[56] See: Sen, A. Culture and Human Rights in Development as Freedom. 2000. New York. Anchor Books. p 234.

[57] ibid. p. 3.

[58] ibid.

[59] ibid. p. 4.

[60] See Tsering, Tashi. A Tibetan Perspective on Globalization. 2006. Published in Himalaya. Vol. 24, No. 1&2. p. 15.

[61] See Asian Human Rights News. Tibet: Tibetan Women Subjected to Double Oppression by the Tibetan Women’s Association. Accessed October 6, 2009.

[62] Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. See NGO Alternative Report on the Status of Tibetan Women in Tibet. 2006. New York. Tibetan Women’s Association Central Executive Working Committee. Dharamsala. p. 18. Accessed October 6, 2009.

[63] Apparent in social systems maintained by exploitative means. Concepts of Peace and Violence in: Peace and Conflict Studies an Introduction. 2000. Aldershot, England. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 19-30.

[64] Johan Galtung describes Structural Violence as social alienation and quality of life reduced by denial of educational opportunities, free speech and freedom of association, poverty, hunger and repression. These conditions are associated with uneven life chances, inequitable distribution of resources and unequal decision-making power. Given its indirect and insidious nature it works slowly in eroding human values and shortening life spans. 1969.

[65] See the Fourth Geneva Convention. Geneva. August 12, 1949. Accessed October 6, 2009.

[66] Gabriel Lafitte is a development policy consultant to the Environment and Development Desk of the Tibetan Government in Exile. See Human Rights Situation inside Tibet. Department of Information and International Relations, Central Tibetan Administration, Gangchen Kyishong. India. October 2009.

[67] ibid. TAR is an abbreviation for Tibet Autonomous Region.

[68] NGO Alternative Report on the Status of Tibetan Women in Tibet. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. (CEDAW). 2006. New York. TWA. Dharamsala. India. Accessed October 6, 2009

[69] ibid.

[70] ibid.

[71] See Human Rights Situation inside Tibet. DIIR/CTA. October 2009. India. Tibetan Development versus Chinese Development.

[72] See Tibetan Women, Peace and Development. 21 August 1995. Tibetan Government in Exile. Part 2.

[73] See Tibetan Women and Human Rights. p.18. A: Population Transfer.

[74] ibid.

[75] See United Nations. December 4, 1996. Declaration on the Right to Development, Article I

[76] Phayul Report 2004. Revised Guidelines for Development in Tibet. April 15, 2004. Accessed October 29, 2009. Online:

[77] See Ecofeminism. Reductionism and Regeneration: A Crisis in Science. Maria Miles and Vandana Shiva. 1993. Melbourne. Spinifex Press. Ch. 2. pp. 22-35.

[78] ibid.

[79] See p. 12. Jaggar, A. 1998. Globalizing Feminist Ethics. Hypatia. Spring 1998; Vol. 13. Issue 2. p. 8.

[80] Phayul Report, in September 2009. Real Change must start with Individuals,’ says Dalai Lama. Accessed 28 September 2009. Online at

[81] See also see Women of Tibet Carrying the Culture. An interview with Rosemary Rawcliffe:

[82] See Dolma Magazine. Press Release: On the International day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. November 25, 2008. Dharamsala, India. TWA. p. 10.

[83] See Butler, A. Feminism, Nationalism and Exiled Tibetan Women in Historical and Symbolic Origins. 2003. India. Published by Kali for Women. p. 33.

[84] See Tibetan Women: Peace, Development and Equality in 6.2: Poverty and Women. August 1995. TGIE. online:

[85] See Human Rights Situation inside Tibet. II. Economic Development. October 2009. Department of Information and International Relations. Central Tibetan Administration. India. Accessed November 1, 2009.

[86] NGO Alternative Report on the Status of Tibetan Women in Tibet. TWA. in Part 3C: Platform for Tibetan Women.

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