To write rape and Kashmir in a single sentence is in itself painful. In last two and half decades of conflict rape was mostly used as a weapon of revenge by the mighty.
In Kashmir rapes are often more than just outburst of one’s lust. Before militancy started in Kashmir there were hardly any rapes committed or reported. It did not happen because Kashmiris had their libidos in check all the time but because of the fear that a rapist will face worst form of social outcast in a Muslim dominated society.
But with around half a million troops stationed mostly in civilian areas cases like Kunan Poshpora and Shopian have changed the connotations of rape in Kashmir. Such cases scar entire society and leave the nation bruised deeply.
But now crimes against women done by locals are a permanent fixture in daily newspapers.
In 90 per cent crime cases against women the onus of blame is always on a victim. It is she who is blamed for her free nature or for being too close to boys.
The sense of false machismo that we carry with us all the time is hurt when a girl refuses our advances or tries to react vocally. We tend to see it as our failure to rein in on a girl – we are fed since our birth that she is a weaker sex – thus need to be commanded all the time and not listened to.
It is too simplistic to blame it on cable network or television or internet as they are but easy escape routes only.
When we shut our eyes or ears to the atrocities committed on women in our surroundings we are actually helping the perpetuator get empowered.
If we stop the criminal before he commits his first crime then chances are that he might give up the idea entirely. But living in an active conflict zone has its own drawback. People often tend to shut their eyes towards what they see as lesser dangerous forms of crime; survival becomes priority.
In the recent past, there were a number of cases that came to fore where the perpetrator had no history of crime. In such a situation it becomes even more difficult to control crimes against women.
One argument that starts doing rounds soon after a case of rape is reports is that unchecked flow of drugs into Kashmir has left entire young generation vulnerable to crimes. These small unorganized drug rackets run under the nose of otherwise well informed and active state police, leaving a big question mark on its credibility.
But one cannot blame ‘back sheep’ of the society all the time for every sort of crime. In most of the recent cases the perpetrators are white collared men who wear a mask of decency by day and turn devils on will.