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Thingnam Anjulika Samom

Thingnam is an independent journalist based in Manipur in north-eastern India.

She writes for various press agencies and publications including Women’s Feature Service, India Together, Inter Press Service and Eastern Frontier. Her Better Half column in a Manipur newspaper, The Sangai Express profiles Manipur women achievers.

Thingnam has worked with the National Council of Educational Research and Training, the United News of India and North East Sun. She is also an award-winning translator.

Why does it matter for you to cover development in the media?

Because there is so much violence here in Manipur that the newspapers have no space for anything else. Every day the stories are all about how many people were killed, how many arrested, plus some politics-related news. But is life limited to these issues? Haven't people got other choices? Don't they have the right to development and to build a better life? That's why I attempt to focus on 'other' issues.

What would you like to achieve through your journalism?

I am a realist. I know that what I write will only reach a few people and amongst them only a handful will take the time to think about what they’ve read. But I keep doing it in the hope that my writing will make a difference to those few.

What are the priority issues in your journalistic work?

My priority issues are women and children. In Manipur the main issues that are reported about are conflict, HIV/AIDS and politics. But these are linked to my own issues – or at least I try to establish those links. For example, I focus on how conflict impacts on women and children, what role political decisions play in the process, how women and children are affected by HIV/AIDS, etc.

Journalism by Thingnam Anjulika Samom

Olympic triumph unites communities in troubled Manipur


The London Olympics are over but the athletes’ achievements have the potential to leave a lasting legacy. Mary Kom, a flyweight boxer from Manipur in north-east India, didn’t win gold – yet her performance inspired her state and her country.

Compensation for rape victims, or justice?


Detail from a poster made by WAD (Women Action for Development), the organisation that Ambra works for - Thingnam Anjulika Samom | Panos London

A new government scheme that has been recently rolled out in Manipur offers rape victims a chance to apply for financial compensation. However, Ambra fears that while the scheme will help women financially it won’t help to bring them justice and that rapists will walk free.

From ridicule to fulfillment; ‘I have made the journey’


Ambra showing her son's high school marks - Thingnam Anjulika Samom | Panos London

Talking of her own ‘journey from victimhood to self-reliance,’ Ambra blogs about how a moment of determination was the turning point for her and her sons.

Controversy as methadone treatment reaches Manipur


People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) and relatives lighting candles - Thingnam Anjulika | Panos London

Ambra blogs about some controversial topics around treating people with drug dependencies in Manipur. Also, a new initiative looks to diagnose HIV in infants as early as possible.

From hard labour to champion runner


Salam ongbi Patamo is now not just a local celebrity - Anjulika Thingnam | Panos London

Salam ongbi Patamo has always had a passion for running, but never expected to win three gold medals. She tells us about how the National Masters Athletic Championships changed her life.

‘No alternatives’ drive HIV positive woman to sex work


An AIDS awareness poster hangs in a corner of Nungshi's hut - Anjulika Thingnam | Panos London

Caring for two children can be difficult in Manipur, especially when you have no means of stable income. Some women turn to the only source of income available to them. Women Action for Development has been supporting Nungshi (not her real name) to start a new life.

‘Mob justice’ follows rape allegation


A rape survivor in the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre - Sven Torfinn | Panos Pictures

Ambra’s support group is helping a young girl who became the victim of ‘mob justice’ after a Manipur policeman’s suicide put her in the firing line.

Democracy “is a farce” in Manipur polls


Villagers cast their vote amidst high security in the polling station in Moirang. About 62 percent of the 802,000 registered voters voted in an incident-free second phase of Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) elections for the Inner Manipur parliamentary constituency on April 22nd 2009 - Sanjit Das | Panos Pictures

The culture of elections in the state is of bribery, corruption and proxy voting. Democracy – which is based on people electing their own representatives – has become a farce of money power and muscle power.

Sensitising the community to protect women in Manipur


Detail from a poster made by WAD (Women Action for Development), the organisation that Ambra works for - Thingnam Anjulika Samom | Panos London

Takhelchangbam Ambravati talks about her work in Manipur supporting women who live with domestic violence.

The story of an HIV widow


A person living with HIV in Manipur, northeast India, makes ribbons for World AIDS Day

A woman had been married for just five and a half months when her husband died. While going through his possessions after his death, she found documents which showed that her husband had been HIV positive for a long time and was even taking antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.

Conflict Widows’ Forum protest against violence


Widows campaign against conflict in Manipur - Takhelchangbam Ambravati | Panos London

The level of violence in Manipur – both within and outside the family – is immense. So even though we have a deep conviction that our work will make a difference, our faith is put to the test many times.

Fast intervention and working together saves women’s lives


Women sell knives at the “Women’s Market” in Imphal. Manipuri women have traditionally borne the brunt of economic responsibilities in the household - Takhelchangbam Ambravati | Panos London

Recently we have been trying to re-awaken and re-invigorate government departments and bodies, trying to get them involved in ensuring justice for the women who are survivors of violence and discrimination.

Blockade sends food prices soaring


Tangkhul Women in colourful dress

Food prices in Manipur have more than doubled as groups have blocked the highways, preventing deliveries of essential commodities and medicines.

Mobile phone links to violence against women


A woman using a mobile phone in her car.

The rise in popularity of mobile phones in Manipur has opened up new avenues of gender discrimination and violence against women.

Stigma haunts HIV/AIDS widows


In Manipur, northeast India, HIV/AIDS has spread from injecting drug users to their wives and children

Our blogger in Manipur, northeast India, explains how stigma against HIV positive people must be overcome if they are to stop the spread of AIDS.

Toy guns burnt in protest


Women in Manipur organise symbolic burnings of toy guns in protest against gun culture

Today my son was reading out the newspaper to me. The main news was of a husband and wife shot dead in front of their three young children by members of an insurgent group. The incident made me think once again how important the examples and lessons are that we give our children.

The dark side of development


Campaigners say hydro-electric dams on Loktak Lake threaten the social and environmental stability of the region / Sanjit Das - Panos Pictures

New technology, training and education are ways in which development can better our lives. Yet, we are also compelled to question what so-called development is costing us.

Human misery of drug crossroads


Police reveal a hoard of spasmo proxyvon, a prescription drug which addicts mix with water and inject like heroin / Anjulika Thingnam - Panos London

A popular joke among the people of Manipur is that A is for Arms, B for Bandhs (strikes), C for Curfew, and D for Drugs. This grim alphabet reflects the sad reality of the state. Tragically those that feel the impact most are women and children.

Free treatment for pregnant women


Pregnant women in Manipur visit the doctor for check-ups

Part of my role as a grassroots worker is to know about the various government schemes that women in Manipur can get help through. Most of the time the women themselves know very little about them.

Suspicions aroused over high suicide rates


A sign inside a morgue in Imphal, Manipur, reads "A corpse is a silent witness that never lies"

Last week women’s groups in Manipur staged protests to demand an investigation into the high number of suicides by women and murders of women. According to crime figures highlighted by the NGO I work for, there were five suicides in the first three months of 2011 alone.

In Manipur gun culture rules over all


A villager in northeast India carries an old hunting rifle and machete. In Manipur more than five decades of insurgency means life is ruled by the gun, according to Ambra

In Manipur we live in a patriarchal and conflict-ridden society dominated by gun culture. As gender activists we work against great odds to lessen the danger and injustice against our fellow women in the state. But sometimes we are struck by the realisation of our own vulnerability.

Child suicide tells tragedy of violence at home


Pictures drawn by 9 to 12 year olds feature in a poster created by Women Action for Development

A recent case in which a ten-year-old boy hanged himself served as a terrible reminder of how domestic violence in the home can have devastating consequences on children.

Forging links to stop violence against women


Sometimes we may feel that an incident that happened in another corner of the state, or something that is going on in the society outside the purview of our work has no relation to us. But this is a wrong notion and a fatal mistake that could set back whatever we have managed to achieve.

Female vigilantes replace poor policing


Last week, a woman – let’s call her Thaba – came to us seeking justice. She had been badly beaten by a man to whom she had lent some money. Her husband was ill and she needed the money back. So she had asked him to return the money.

I pray 2011 is peaceful and free of killings


Last year was a sad year for us. It started with the gruesome gang rape and murder of a 36-year-old widow called Chanbi and her teenage daughter. Chanbi left behind two daughters and a nine-year-old son. Although there was wide public outcry, the police have been unable to find the culprits. There were four cases…

Women and children bear the brunt of conflict


For the last seven years our organisation Women Action for Development (WAD) has observed the International Fortnight Protesting Violence Against Women. The run-up to this fortnight is very hectic for all of us – preparing documents, analysing our findings, consulting with key policy-makers and individuals, brainstorming novel ways to raise awareness about violence against women…

I helped 56 women weavers get health insurance


The women in my state spend most of their time caring for their husbands, children and old people in the house. As a result, they tend to ignore their own ailments, giving priority to others. So when they do ultimately go to the doctor, it is only when the illness has become very painful or…

Our society sanctions a husband hitting his wife


In Manipur there is a saying that a woman should be beaten ten times a day, suggesting that this is the only way to set her under men’s dominance. Another supposedly “respectful” saying, given as advice by parents to the in-laws and the husband of their daughters, is “discipline her [the daughter] to fit your…

Beaten woman sent back to husband


In my work with abused women, one of the most important things is the support of the family and their resolve to stand by the decision of their daughter. In a recent case I dealt with, a woman who had been regularly beaten by her husband was forced by her family to go back and…

Manipur widows stand up for their rights


Two days ago, I went with a colleague to visit a 24-year-old widow undergoing treatment in hospital. Her husband was killed in a shootout with the police in January this year. The police claimed that her husband was linked with the insurgents operating in the state and told the media that he had been found…

I found rice was being stolen along the way


Last week, my organisation ran a two-day residential workshop on lobbying and advocacy. This workshop focused on problems in Manipur, namely health, trafficking, education, conflict and the public distribution system. Most of the participants were volunteer workers, like me. Some were widows whose husbands were killed during the ongoing conflict in Manipur, some were students,…

My husband sold our house to buy alcohol


It was an evening like this when I decided I would no longer suffer in silence in an abusive marriage and walked out on my husband. It was a decision that changed my life forever. Now I work as a gender volunteer for Women Action for Development (WAD) and I come across many stories like…

Pen-power, research & me


Better understanding, not bigger stories helped reinvigorate one reporter's passion for her work in Manipur, north-east India.

TB-HIV: the new face of India’s old enemy


The state of Manipur has driven down tuberculosis numbers but its high levels of HIV, coupled with shame and secrecy, are threatening to undermine progress.

The unlikely radio stars of an Indian village


A crude loudspeaker, a PA system and dedicated news presenters are attracting loyal listeners in a remote Indian village.

A tale of two births


Giving birth with the help of a skilled attendant is seen as the ideal but it is far from the reality for millions of women.

The heavyweight girls of Manipur


When food is scarce in many parts of rural India, girls are fed less than their brothers. But in the north-eastern region it's a different story.