The unfinished sentence

Arshid Malik

Camera Obscura: A woman married and with children, was found hanging by the ceiling a week ago, news agencies here in Kashmir reported. The snapshot of the woman hanging by the ceiling, drained of all fluids, pale with a deeply sad look on her face made me puke. I could not bear it for the very sight of it. A week later another woman was found in the same condition. Such incidents are reported by the local press in Kashmir every now and then. I am not exactly aware of the statistics of such incidents but I am damn sure that it is a matter of concern when a woman, even a single one, commits suicide. Now, why do these women kill themselves; what are the factors that drive them to take such drastic steps; what are the chances that these so-reported “suicides” are not actually murders camouflaged as “suicides”? I definitely don’t doubt that could be the case since I am decently aware of the rigged mentality that Kashmiri men have, especially when it comes to women. Most of the crimes that men commit against women folk in Kashmir are essentially pressed deep into time to the point of obscurity majorly over the pretext of religion. As the saying goes, “give the dog a bad name and kill it”. The truth is women are not treated any better than that in Kashmir in majority of the cases. Woman is an object of desire, a sex totem, and a house-maid who does your chores for free, here and I guess in the rest of the country as well and that is so very unsettling. My point of concern is that there is no one talking about such mounting number of suicides in Kashmir and I guess no investigations are underway. Such cases are simply “dismissed” as suicides while my analysis of the whole affair drives me to conclude that these cases of suicides committed by women should be calculably treated as “forced self-annihilations” which would amount to a murder and the people who push these innocent women to such limits should be at least be imprisoned for at least 10 years of rigorous imprisonment.

Malignant Absences: I am so very concerned over the matter of the rising number of “suicides” committed by women in Kashmir and I am driven to the point of utter anguish over the silence that the society here has been maintaining over the issue. I do not find any woman’s rights groups taking note of such incidents and by the way where is the State Commission for Women; where is the civil society of Kashmir? And pertinently where are the human rights activists and organizations? Why I mention human rights organizations here is because the very act of deliberation over “suicide” and the actuation of the same is not an isolated individual affair but a gamut of unalienable factors imposed by the families of the concerned and the violations of their rights thereof which eventually commensurate into the act of “suicide” and thus it is an issue which definitely categorizes as a human rights violation. Why doesn’t anyone, any organization talk about these “suicides”? Why doesn’t anyone investigate the eventuation of such cases? Why is there a formidable silence over the whole thing? I understand that a lot of people have been killed in Kashmir since the late 80s but that does not mean that every death, murder, torture and rape should be ignored since millions have been slaughtered here. Every life counts, and when it comes to women it definitely counts multi-fold.

The Kashmiri Virtuoso: Men in Kashmir have been subjected to torture, pain and humiliation, their rights violated all along, their identities challenged everywhere during the last two decades and this has deeply scathed the psyche of the “man” in Kashmir. And as is the “statutory” rule with the circle of violence it spins around and one happens to inflict the same kind of pain and misery to the most obtainable subject one finds lurking around and in our case it is the women. Therein lays a sound argument as to why possibly could Kashmiri men be torturing their women, their spouses in the dark recess of their homes. This is a general view that has penetrated news and analysis as also common debate in and around the Kashmiri intelligentsia. But, I am opinionated that while the men suffered outside on the roads the women suffered more inside their homes. We just never looked deep inside. Women lost their sons, their honour and dignity and the peace of their minds all along. They suffered equally but always stood ground. They are the ones who kept out homes straight while we went berserk. And maintaining such ground is not an easy task and when you top it up with “male intrigued chauvinism catapulted into a circumambulation of violence” there is scope for outlet by way of extermination of oneself while there is also scope for the fact that the circle of violence jumps and breaches certain standards and leads to men subjecting their women to torture which eventually leads to murder thereof disguised as suicide. So suicide is not ending at a “sorry note” for women here, but a point of devouring of human value systems, especially when we are talking about relations between men and women.

Pathology of Power: Apart from the inferences that one can draw as pertains to the relations between men and women in Kashmir and the circle of violence than eventually breaks the latter to a point in time where she is forced, pushed and hounded to end her life if for the sake of it she is not murdered, there is a certain power statistic that I need to register here. Men in Kashmir gained a certain kind of vitality with the advent of the “gun” in Kashmir. The gun, during the long stretched insurgency which has not totally seeped out of Kashmir till date, was not only an instrument for violent aggression against India and its presence through its forces in the valley but it was also a an instrument of power that maligned the value systems followed by men down here. The gun-wielding men, young and old, irrespective of the fact that whether they ever got to fire even a single bullet ever, did obtain a certain trait peculiar of male chauvinism in terms of attainment of un-obtainable power. This maligning of the male psyche in Kashmir did have a definite bearing on the times to come when the gun almost disappeared from the valley. It left its traces of power and that power was assistive of oppression of women to a greater degree. The male virtuoso of Kashmir emerged here too, in a different shade of course.

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