Irom Chanu Sharmila, also known as the "Iron Lady of Manipur" or "Mengoubi" is a civil rights activist, political activist, and poet from the Indian state of Manipur, which is located on the north-eastern side of India. On 5 November 2000, she began a hunger strike in favour of abolishing the Armed Forces Act, 1958 that applies to the seven states and grants security forces the power to search properties without a warrant, and to arrest people, and to use deadly force if there is "reasonable suspicion" that a person is acting against the state. She ended the fast on 9 August 2016, after 16 long years of fasting. Having refused food and water for more than 500 weeks, she has been called "the world's longest hunger striker". On International Women's Day, 2014 she was voted the top woman icon of India by MSN Poll.
In 2014 two parties asked her to stand in the national election, but she declined. She was then denied the right to vote as a person confined in jail cannot vote according to law. On 19 August 2014 a court ordered her release from custody, subject to there being no other grounds for detention.