Violence against women: Kashmir context

Violence against women is a worldwide process because it includes half of the world population. Violence against women is not a new phenomenon. It is being perpetuated againstwomen in various forms. History bears testimony to the fact that women have been most oppressed, vulnerable and marginalized section of the society. ‘Othering’ discourse regarding women has been canonized through the distorted historical facts and myths to justify oppressive social norms and customs that clog her freedom, so that ‘illegitimate power of patriarchy can be legitimized as insofar, so that women can follow blindly commandments of men. Violent incidents day by day are skyrocketing against women because she is considered as an enfeeble and submissive creature on the earth. Indeed, it is ‘inferiority and superiority complex’ which makes women always prone to violence. In spite of the fact that men has authority over women, but this doesn’t completely mean that he can use his power for rapacious and egoistic interest to fulfill his unquenchable thirst. ‘Authority of Men’ is within the boundaries, once, he transcend these boundaries it eventually leads to conflict and create mayhem and destroys peaceful and blissful life of men and women. (NOTE: Talking about authority of men over women doesn’t fit with the article). As per Aneesa Shafi and Mohmad Saleem Jahangir “Violence against women occurs in all setting; at work, in the home, in the streets, and the community, at large and in situation of armed conflict and is perpetuated by men. Most significant fact is that women and girls experience violence at the hands of men to whom they know and within the, so – called ‘safe haven of the home’ and family. In all of these situations, gender power differentials and other inequalities play an important role in the dynamic of violence. Women in Kashmir equally share the sorrows and fortunes of life with women in other parts of the world. Although, the practice of infanticide, feticide, dowry deaths are not resorted to women are generally abused, maltreated, subjugated and victimized right from the childhood because of the socially structured inequality”. According to Harvey and Gow, “History of violence against women is tied in the history of women being viewed as property and a gender role assigned to be subservient to men”. It is because of this oppressive and brutal culture, she is not in a position to live a dignified and honorable life. Institution of patriarchy has made her life very awful and maladroit. Violence can‘t be confined to social institutions, political institutions etc. but language is a gigantic instrument to justify brutal form of violence: Such as abusive language against women which has become an integral part of women’s life. She is mostly facing these jibes not only from own family but these jibes are also used by her mother- in- law, father- in- law, or even from her own husband, who are also involved in these heinous crimes that humiliate and decimate her blissful and equanamous life .These abuses are mostly faced by women who do not give dowry to their in – laws or those who belong to poor families. It is because of these abusive jibes, women are not in a position to ‘ fortitude ‘ this humiliation due to which large number of them commit suicide or refuse to marry because of these forms of violence that is being perpetuated against women in our society, which is totally felonious and opprobrious act. Even our mental setup is biased to the extent that we consider women‘s dress style entirely responsible for disseminating venom and evil in the society and in contrary to this, man is hardly held responsible for it. It is totally preposterous to blame a particular section of the society for disseminating venom and evil in the society. Having too much prejudice and stereotypic notion regarding women is a historical process. It is through this biased historical process, we are embattling the mind setup of coming generation, so that legacy of bias against women will not diminish.
There are still huge chunk of population who face humiliation and violence at the hands of their husbands or in – laws but they endure it with patience and silence which is totally felonious and rueful. To slander women always is also justifying and deepening violence against women in Jammu and Kashmir.

Girls from the very childhood are encouraged and rewarded for internalising the ‘feminine’ traits e.g. submissiveness, emotiveness, tenderness, modesty, patience and the likes whereas boys are encouraged to be assertive, dominating, aggressive, competitive and ambitious. Hence a boy acquires masculinity, while a girl acquires femininity in the process of socialization. Jesie Benard argues that the everyday life especially for children under age five is divided into ‘pink world’ for girls and a ‘blue world’ for boys. The pink world encourage girls to be submissive and emotional, while the blue world expect boys to be assertive, and independent for example the choice of dish cleaner, doll like real babies are bought for girls reinforcing idea of femininity as about being a wife and mother who cares for others. On the other hand train, cars, tool sets and heroic action figure present a masculine life centered on active work and adventure. Further the process of reward and punishment tends to reinforce the notion of masculinity and femininity among the young children. E.g. a boy is rewarded for displaying risk taking, adventurous behavior and dominance, while a girl is discouraged against such behaviors and vice versa. Coming to women in Kashmir, they not only are facing institutional Violence But are continuously facing domestic violence that are taking place within the jurisdiction of family. It is also heinous crime against women. In this form of violence, Women are physically or mentally abused by their husbands or by the in – laws. This filthy crime is also skyrocketing day by day against women in Jammu and Kashmir. The studies carried out regarding domestic violence reveals that more than 40% of women in Kashmir are physically or mentally abused by their husbands or by the in – laws. Most of the reason of domestic violence against women are dowry, interference from in – laws, misunderstanding between husband and wife, scuffle over the giving of birth to female babies and resulted in the hike of domestic violence against women in Jammu and Kashmir. A study sponsored by State Women Commission Jammu and Kashmir and carried out by valley’s well known sociologist professor Baseer Ahmad Dabla in 2003 revealed that 40% women in Kashmir were physically abused by husband. State women commission Jammu and Kashmir receives 1600 and 1700 every year but majorities of cases come from Kashmir valley. There is rise in domestic violence against women in Kashmir valley especially in Pulwama, Budgam and Srinagar, while Jammu region witness less domestic violence cases than the Kashmir valley. As per State Women Commission, harassment by in – laws is one the main reason for female suicide in Jammu and Kashmir and even dowry plays a pivot role in female suicide cases. In the name of dowry large number of women have even been burnt alive by their in- laws. In many cases relationship between husband and wife gets exacerbated after marriage due to dowry or they get separated from each other, due to it. There are still huge chunk of population who face humiliation and violence at the hands of their husbands or in – laws but they endure it with patience and silence which is totally felonious and rueful. To slander women always is also justifying and deepening violence against women in Jammu and Kashmir. Curse of dowry acts as a big clog over the happy married life or It is curse of dowry which sabotage equanimeous and placid life of women. Recently a woman in District Islambad was burnt down by her in laws, who later on died in Soura Medical Institute. On 10th April, a 30 year old woman was found hanging at her in – laws home in Moominabad of Islamabad district. These are not only two cases of domestic violence. There are such thousands of such cases, which aren’t investigated properly or unresolved in police stations and in courts. In October 2017 the government of Jammu and Kashmir had launched a women’s helpline number (181) to provide round the clock assistance to women in distress. According to the data provided by Women helpline number (181) a total number of 922 cases of violence against women have been registered between April and September 2020, which includes 669 cases of domestic violence.
Need of hour is to dismantle patriarchal mind setup in our society and to eschew bias against women which is perpetuating since centuries, So that she can live a dignified and honorable life.
A look at the three years data reveals that crime against women has increased more in Kashmir as compared to Jammu and Ladakh. A total of 1756 cases has been registered in Kashmir followed by Jammu that reported 1570 cases of domestic violence. In Ladakh 44 cases of domestic violence and six others category cases have been registered in the last three years. Purina Dhar manager at women helpline number (181) said that on an average her team registers 10 cases every day. The National family Health survey conducted by the Union Ministry of health has exposed shocking fact about domestic violence against women in Jammu and Kashmir. The survey report released in 2020 claim that 9.6% women in the age group 18 – 49 experienced domestic violence in 2019 – 2020.Five years ago, when Jammu and Kashmir was still a state , the survey says 9.4% of women were subjugated to domestic violence. The survey further reveals that domestic abuse and sexual harassment is more widespread in rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir as compared to Jammu and Kashmir. “Around 11% of rural women between 18 and 49 years have witnessed domestic violence, Whereas in Urban areas 5.9 % of women have been victim of domestic violence in 2019 – 2020.5% of rural women of age group 18 – 29 have experienced sexual violence at the age of 18, while 1.4% of urban women have sexual violence at the age of 18” The survey said. After abrogation of article 35a and 370 by central government in Jammu and Kashmir, had abolished many state run Commission, which included the State Commission for Women. Since then more than 18 months have passed, yet the Jammu and Kashmir administration has not initiated the process for establishing the office of the National commission for Women in Jammu and Kashmir, Which is a grievous matter because day by day crimes against women in Jammu and Kashmir is skyrocketing. To conclude, violence is an unending vicious cycle against women in Jammu and Kashmir, Who are not only brutalized and oppressed by institutions belongingto the establishment but she faces severe injustice within the jurisdiction of family also. Whether violence is in form of rape or domestic violence both are heinous crime against humanity and can’t be justified at all. Delay In registering these heinous crimes is also a main reason to espouse culprits to commit more and more such heinous crimes. Mere protests regarding violence against women can’t reduce these heinous crime because there are thousands of such incidents which are neither reported or when incidents of rape or domestic violence against women in our society occur, instead of providing justice to them, they are suppressed both by state as well by social institutions like family because they think it will traduce their so-called reputation in society. Need of hour is to dismantle patriarchal mind setup in our society and to eschew bias against women which is perpetuating since centuries, So that she can live a dignified and honorable life.
(The author is student at Political Science Department at Kashmir University Srinagar. Views are his own)
arifrashid636@gmail.com

 

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