BY ANAM MUKHTAR
A thorough statistical inquiry into abuse against women in Kashmir has seen a rise that’s ever so likely to shake you to your core. Shocking revelations were made about the percentage of women in the age group of 18-49 who experienced domestic violence in the year 2019-2020. It rounded about to 9.4% of women with the exemption of those who couldn’t make it to disclose their abuse. It is further expounded by surveys that domestic abuse and sexual harassment is more prevalent in rural areas of J&k in comparison to the city. Data for the past six years ( until March 2019) unravels that 1046 rape cases in Jammu and Kashmir are currently under trial, of which 831 cases are in the waiting list since 2014 . Around 820 of the pending cases have the inclusion of the victims who are minors. The figures exceed that of our expectations since we stand tall for our high moral ground. The region is flooded with information on the kind of abuse that women endure, except that we don’t quite look into the intricacies of how it comes into being or how to counter the very problem that seems to strengthen its roots.
Abuse is a deep-seated idea with its impact taking over the very fabric of humanity. It’s a conundrum that is woven into existence by varied components that require our attention to be able to come stronger out of.
Elucidating a bit about the prevalence of abuse in Kashmir, we can vouch for it to have increased in the lockdown with many factors playing along.
It’s a region of conflict where the turmoil has had its hands in disrupting the peace of people with a lot to lend to the problems at home. It’s a much needed discussion that needs to be made in the wake of self realisation. Kashmir is a hotspot for weakened mental health and thus has more proclivity to having its people get sensitive about what life has to offer. Delving into the matter of abuse and its kind, there isn’t just the physical abuse that has taken the valley by storm. There’s the emotional facet to what’s mostly to be kept an eye on and that needs a fair amount of description to be given to in order to do justice to the survivors and victims.
A certain kind of hush descends around the plight of women where victims and the bystanders keep to themselves in hopes of the family settling down the issue within the four walls. Nevertheless, the issue in question only becomes grievous when overlooked.
It’s imperative to read between the lines when dealing with central points of abuse that many women are the subject of.
The reason why a woman is an easy target for abuse is very much defined by the conceptions of patriarchy and misogyny. Such primary power held by men in the society puts them on a pedestal where misusing their might is not out of the ordinary. A woman’s worth is often questioned on the ground of their relation and submission to men which is hypocritical because men are given the credit of being “manly enough” for their dominance on women as though masculinity inherently is better than effeminate character. These are destructive thoughts that have been around for time immemorial and need a change to come from home.
On further examination, we find that the more personalised a problem becomes, the more onerous it gets to talk about it.
The problem at present is the silence that looms over such an issue. As much as we’d long for making a change among the offenders, they’d remain unaffected by a drive that they have internalised for so long. So, it’s only salient to have to voice out our sufferings to the sympathetic ears that the world today is. We must steer clear of thrashing judgments on women for their troubles where asking them to resort to the means of compromising is the only go to place for the women who are suffering at the hands of those whose advice is nothing less than a torment.
Women are made to hold back from speaking about their abuse for the reason of shame that hovers upon the women in the aftermath of their concerns.
Most of the women who don’t speak against their abuse do so because they live off the income of those who abuse them. It appears plausible for them to not strip themselves of the only source of financial help that they can get while putting their lives at stake. Most often than not, these women have a damaged self esteem, thinking of themselves as worthy of the chastisement where they succumb to the preposterous demands of keeping quiet around a topic that is an extension of toxic masculinity which lead to men feeling entitled to engage in violence against women.
There’s a lot of shame that’s brought to women in Kashmir when they call out these gender disparities. This shame is what is often a main reason for why we don’t see women speaking out for themselves. People use religion as a garb to justify their horrendous actions against women as a way to keep them on the right track. However, islam doesn’t enslave a woman and is a proponent for equity.
People get away with the offence because women are thought of as individuals who are manipulated into thinking that they are at fault for the wrong that a man does. They are a scapegoat for the anger that’s displaced from the more powerful tyrants to these women who are a soft cushion to fight back on.
The way out of such forceful compliance is to speak out in a public sector that assures them of an action being taken against these offenders. There also needs to be a systematic ideology in place for such heinous acts in addition to some organisations that would cater to the needs of women who require reaffirmation and validation for their suffering. Victims must be given enough space to grieve the loss of what they’d so dearly desired to live, a life that now seems to have crumbled down to pieces. Severance of women from their abuser’s must be well taken care of because any association with them can activate the distress and lead to a confrontation that could manifest in physical abuse. Victims become credulous and get swayed by the “nice guy/ girl act” after an abusive episode and can easily be talked into staying. However, it must be instilled in women to learn to rise above such manipulation to secure a place of comfort where they won’t be impeded for a better life. Dissipating knowledge is key to helping women know their rights and the ways they can reach out to people for help. Documenting the incidents and injuries can come handy in later police reports. Victims are often compelled to erase the evidence against their offenders which is why there isn’t much on the accused in the court of law. Glorification of violence against women in movies, games,television and media is perpetuated and this furthers the cause for concern because people take it on a note of seriousness. This mediated sexism adds on to the already existing fiery discrimination against women. Such stern mediation should be closely monitored and put a cessation to. Firmness to penalising domestic violence should be made consistent in the society where it’s so easy to slander a woman for her character. Helping women find sufficiency in finances is one of the typical ways of letting them free. Sometimes, just being given economical independence is enough to help a woman break free from the shackles of torture. Character assassination is yet another form of abuse where a woman is objected for her choices. Such is the severity of the impact of posing threat to a woman’s character that many have been recorded to have harmed themselves to escape the culture that comes with being given a derogatory label. The problem is with how we anticipate a woman to abide by certain gender specific roles which when deviated from, causes outburst from society. The solution at hand is with us as a society knowing a woman’s importance and not letting women think that they are any less of a person.
Sometimes lending an ear to the victims can go a long way in assisting these women to reach a state of freedom.
Women are as much to be blamed as men, for they are complicit in the judgments that they so effortlessly pass on while attacking their own gender.
Here, the victims find it difficult to survive with the mortification of being told that they are a wrecker for shining light upon a personal issue.
There’s an apathetic force that deals with women who think that it’s their job to deal with the problem that they are facing.
With the advent of the info dump, we are more than ever equipped with enough rationale to fight against the barriers that look down upon women. We are always “ an action away” from our problems. There’s a hope that is instilled in us as women for being a warrior that need to enforce ideologies to get our issues to be taken care of.
Anam Mukhtar ,B.A honours in philosophy and Minors in psychology from DU.A woman rights advocate and a debater.