Why UN Bodies Don’t Come To Kashmir Womens’ Rescue?

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by Hafiza Muzaffar

In the state of Jammu and Kashmir, rapes have figured at the third major crime against women and its cases are increasing, year after year. Watching the statistics, I feel ashamed of where has Kashmir reached. We have lost our values. It was in 1400 century when females got their liberty but now it feels like we have gone back to Stone Age.

I strongly believe instead of awareness camps in women’s colleges, the camps should be held in boy’s colleges. Maybe then we may be able to tell them how to behave!

In my six years of experience as the secretary of the Women’s Commission, I came across around 25,000 cases but we could dispose only 10,000 during this period. And out of my experience, I want to put it on record that the women are the worst sufferers and turmoil has played a key role. The major problem is they are not even aware of their laws.

In our state, women are facing enormous inequality, problems of mental health and development. They suffer violence discrimination and are denied access to basic education and healthcare. They are underrepresented in political and economic decisions making process and suffer physical violence as well. They are stressed, overburdened. Every day they have to face violence, their kids get killed. The present scenario has taken a toll on their minds and I have seen it during my posting as secretary of the commission from 2006 to 2012.

This issue has already been raised with United Nations Women in Delhi. We asked them to send counsellors to our state so that they can visit us and help in saving some. Unfortunately, they declined the offer claiming they are not allowed to visit the disturbed areas.

If United Nations Women, who have the mandate to empower women through safety nets, cannot visit Kashmir, I question the UN policy. Are not disturbed areas to be accessed as normal places? How can they ignore these areas where more attention is required? We require the help of these international bodies. There is not any presence of UNICEF or United Nations women in this state. They must pay a visit and see how pathetic and vulnerable the women of this corner of the world are. After all, we too are humans and need to be treated as humans.

The health condition of women in J&K is also deteriorating and the need of the hour is to pay attention to this human race otherwise the outcome will be alarming.

From time to time, the state did make certain initiatives. National Mission for Empowerment, for instance, is given the mandate to have safe areas of activity for women. One of the key components of the mission is to secure convergence of schemes / programmes of different departments, both of the central as well as the state governments.

The specific activities identified for the National Mission are economic empowerment, elimination of violence against women, gender mainstreaming and social development.

If the above-mentioned schemes and programmes are implemented in the state religiously, time will come and this state will become role model for other states. The government must donate some of its free lands so that they could be changed to recreational places and there is a dire need of one in every district.

On a tour to Kupwara once, where we had an awareness session, I found two girls were desperately looking for something in the market. I got worried if everything was alright with them so I preferred to ask them. They told me they were looking for a toilet. It would sound a minor issue to some but it is a big issue for us.

The Indian State has some International commitments but when it comes to Kashmir, there is none on the ground.

During the last decades, a number of international meetings have been convened which Government of India committed to taking action for improvement of lives of Women. The convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW), which government of India signed in 1980. The World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna (1993) asserted that women’s rights are human rights.

The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo (1994) placed women’s rights and health at the centre of population and Development strategies.

At the Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing 1995, Government declared its determination “to advance the goals of equality, development and peace” for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity.

In the year 1995 Commonwealth plan of action on gender and development, Governments declared their vision of a world in which women and men have equal rights and opportunities in all stages of their lives.

Keeping in view all these international declarations which ought to have been extended in the state of Jammu and Kashmir where women suffer more mental agony because of the turmoil. They suffer more atrocities, humiliation, violence and torture. Due to the presence of Article 370, many central laws cannot be extended to this state until passed by the J&K legislature, but the international declaration for safety and equality of women can be implemented in this state.

National Commission for Women came into existence in the year 1995 and simultaneously State Government passed its own act called J&K State Commission for women 1999. Another Law Domestic Violence was also passed by the Government of India in 2005 and started implementation in 2006. It was passed in 2011, in state and I still remember how I drafted the different clauses of the law because we wanted the common masses especially women, unaware of the laws that protect them from violence. To achieve the objective of equality and development, but they lack knowledge, lack of awareness, women are not able to approach these law bodies.

And the important part of it was we should give proper rights to our women. There is no room for the atrocities against women, given the Holy Scriptures that Muslims follow. In Surah Nisa, there is actually no mention of talaaq.

Hafiza Muzaffar

Once a women came to me in commission, who was thrown out by her in-laws for not washing clothes of her brother-in-law. We had to intervene and talk to her in-laws. Such was the ignorance of her mother-in-law that she did not know that her daughter-in-law was not bound to do it. When we told her it is not in Shariah, she replied: “I don’t accept this Shariah.”

Such ignorance was felt in most of the cases so the rules of the commission were devised as per our requirements. We made it sure that we get a Molvi in the commission who will give proper sessions to these families. But at the same time, I am not denying the fact that woman cannot be wrong. The larger reality is that Kashmir society is run by both the genders equally and there has to be sustainable gender equality.

(The author retired as Mission Director, National Mission for Empowerment of Women. Ideas expressed in this article are personal.)

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  1. nisarudduin ahmed jeddy on

    You have to tweet on tweeter Regularily to UN Womens Organisation/Amenesty international/Human Rights Watch/Other Human rights Organisation.In addition you may tweet to Secretary General of UNO Mr Antinio Gueterres.Further you may also lodge complaints on a piece of paper to your Human Rights Commisson based at Srinagar Kashmir and seek punishment of the negligent police officers who did not act as well as the criminals.Further you can also approach your local Minorities commisson and lodge complaints.If these do not respond ,then you can file writ petition in High Court against the Authorities and claim compensation to the victims and punishment to the accussed.Remember Nobody is above the Law,Howsoever High He/she may be.Take the help of a lawyer.It will be easier for you.

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