Niromi de Soyza’s Tamil Tigress: My Story as a Child Soldier in Sri Lanka’s Bloody Civil War (2011) is a memoir about a year in the author’s and her friend Ajanthi’s lives when they joined the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) and fought as female militants in the second phase of the Sri Lankan civil war. Soyza’s autobiographical account depicts the 1980s when the Tamil Tigers were fighting the Sri Lankan government and the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) in the northern and eastern parts of the country. As teenagers, Niromi and Ajanthi were highly inspired by the revolutionary idealism of the Liberation Tigers and, with great zeal, decided to dedicate their lives to the cause of their community’s rights in Sri Lanka. The article reads Soyza’s memoir as a powerful depiction of how the Sri Lankan civil war and its gruesome violence affected women and their subjectivities. The article focuses on the psychosocial turbulence of young women like Niromi and Ajanthi, who took up arms with an unflinching hope to combat the Sinhalese atrocities and the Sri Lankan government’s systemic apathy towards the Tamils. Unlike men, these female warriors were not valorized; instead, they faced family derision and social derogation at many levels. This article examines how those women who had dreamt of asserting their potency and agency vis-à-vis militancy have finally been left beleaguered and disillusioned. Uncovering the insidious differential treatment in a supposedly gender-equal organization such as the LTTE, de Soyza’s memoir provides an intimate glimpse of the gendered discrimination that stereotypes women only as subordinate to their male counterparts, even when they act as equals. The article thus demonstrates that Niromi de Soyza’s recollection offers an insightful understanding of the ambiguous predicament of female militants and, through her final disclosure, enunciates that war and militancy can hardly provide avenues for women’s empowerment and affirmation.
"Women and War: (Dis)illusionment and Disclosure in Niromi de Soyza’s Tamil Tigress,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 24:
6, Article 14.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol24/iss6/14