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Saturday / March 25.

The biggest issue in Kashmir is no longer the ‘Kashmir issue’

By Jaya Ranjan

The Kashmir issue has been analyzed thoroughly. Every point of view has been covered and every angle has been looked into. The opinions of youth, politicians, civilians and separatists have been presented and deciphered in the media. Every member of the audience pretends to comprehend the intractable situation. However, in this labyrinth of opinions, the voice of the Kashmiri women seems to have been forgotten. As per the census of 2011, Jammu and Kashmir has a population of 1.25 crores, of which approximately 59 lakh are women.

The dark underbelly of Kashmir

The voices of these women have been ignored and their existence has been pushed into oblivion. All this in the face of the very crisis that now forms an inseparable part of their daily routines.

These women are more vulnerable to the hostile situation that has plagued Kashmir than men, living in constant fear of violence and uncertainty for the future.

While the Kashmiri civilians have to brave pellet guns and tear gas in the name of the ongoing crisis, the hardships faced by the women extends beyond external causalities. The imposition of curfew following the killing of Burhan Wani has exacerbated the matter for women. With road blockades and restrictions on movement, the men find themselves restricted to their houses. The frustration of lawlessness, chaos, helplessness and the worsening of situation day in and day out, leaves them angry and frustrated and, it is the women who have to bear the anger and violence inflicted upon them by their own husbands, as well as other male members of the family.

Kashmiri women are restricted due to the curfew imposed that acts as a deterrent to report domestic violence

Kashmiri women are restricted due to the curfew imposed that acts as a deterrent to report domestic violence | Photo Courtesy: Daily Sabah

Of course, this is not true for every household. Still, data revealed by the State government shows that around 2000 cases of domestic violence were reported in 2016. This, when compared to the approximate 4150 cases filed during the last five years, indicates a steep rise in the numbers. Domestic violence is a social evil that has smothered the Indian society as a whole, but, for Kashmiri women, the issue is even more grave.

Hell on earth

Getting out of their homes and walking to the police station to file an FIR may seem like a huge hurdle for them, almost impossible to overcome. Even if they manage to do so, the absence of women personnel deters the women from reporting the abuse and violence.

While women all over India are silenced from reporting such crimes and taking the legal course of action, the Kashmiri woman is further deprived from even seeking informal help from the commissions and women groups due to the restricted movement the curfew has imposed on them. Getting out of their homes and walking to the police station to file an FIR may seem like a huge hurdle for them, almost impossible to overcome. Even if they manage to do so, the absence of women personnel deters the women from reporting the abuse and violence. Another issue which needs to be brought under light is the reluctance of women to go against their husbands and in laws because of social conditioning that promulgates the concept of “adjustments and compromises” in the name of marriage.

The sound of the pellet guns, shattering windows, stones being hurled are a reminder of the constant violence that the Valley witnesses, but for some women, hiding underneath this outward terror is a even worse threat, one that lurks in the shadows. It is up to us to shine a light on it.


Featured Image Credits: Kashmir Life
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