Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Perspective on Kashmiri Women who Have Suffered the Most During the Insurgency

She suffered the most and this must concern us all, says Dr. Khazana Aziz, on the Women's Day, 2008.

(Dr. Aziz, 29, was born and raised in Srinagar, Kashmir. She graduated from the Medical College, Srinagar, and completed her post graduate diploma from the Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. She is currently an elected member of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), and won her seat from the Rawalpora ward in 2005. She is also the President of the Medical Development Society, an NGO working on improving health among women and children of J&K.)


Ever since the armed conflict in Kashmir broke out, the most suffered section of the society has been the women of Kashmir. When the militancy started in 1990, the first effect it had on the women folk was that their education started getting neglected. This was particularly more in rural areas where parents preferred to keep their daughters indoors so that they do not have to suffer the hardships during that time. There have been instances when armed groups have exploited women in Kashmir and many a times such instances have been reported in media as well. In the later years there have been many armed conflicts which resulted in cordon and search of areas, and since male members of the family would hide themselves, the females had to counter the law enforcement agencies so much so that the arrests if any, were resisted by women in Kashmir. This resulted into a situation when the arrests were also resisted by womenfolk; they would also take out processions on the streets. Even women would go to various offices connected to the investigation of the cases of arrested persons. And women would be seen in the premises of various trial courts to pursue the cases of their relations. They would also be seen in large numbers outside jails.

The aged girls were allured by various armed groups and were used as couriers to carry weapons, grenades, money and press report etc. Some of the women were arrested by the security agencies over the years. Kashmiri women would rely or turn towards their family in case of any crises, but find it very difficult in the present scenario and for the same reason there has been increase in the instances of suicide in the past couple of years. There are various reasons for these suicides. There is a need to address the basic problem of security, rather a sense of security in her mind. There is also need for women organizations who should sincerely study these problems and become an interface towards the suffering women and various agencies i.e. health, education, law enforcement, so that the problems of women, which earlier used to be reported through family, could be addressed through these organizations.

Study findings:

The study on Kashmir focused on women’s well-being from a holistic perspective. Since majority of women are affected and display symptoms of post traumatic stress, their health and its neglect formed a significant part of the study. Women look after those who are ‘ill’ in the family, performing their role as mothers, wives and daughters, thereby bearing the maximum burden as caregivers, at the cost of their own wellbeing. The study found that the mental health of people of Kashmir was under huge strain with more than 40,000 patients visiting the only mental hospital in Srinagar in a year, many of them suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. More than 85 percent of the population takes anti-depressant medicines and out of 100 cases of acute depression, 70-80 are woman. A large number of women also turn to shrines for ‘faith healing’. Women take on the burden of their own and their family’s suffering and trauma, in fact often not reporting their own mental ill health until it is critical as they put other’s concern ahead of their own.

The conflict did however push women into mobilization in new ways. The study looked in particular at the response of ‘half widows’- those women who sons and husbands are missing. Some of these half-widows led by one woman, who had never stepped out of her house before the conflict, set up the Association of the Parents of the Disappeared Persons (APDP). The founder of the organization began to negotiate with different state agencies, visiting jails, courts and various government offices, demanding that she be allowed to meet her missing son or at least be told of his whereabouts. And as she stated in an interview ‘Ladkay Ke Saat mera dar bhi kho gaya’ (along with my son, I have lost the sense of fear). Nearly 400 families are now mobilized for a collective struggle.

The study concludes that the continuing conflict in Kashmir has imposed new and challenging roles on women, as well as led to increase in the number of households headed by females. Responding to grave tragedies and emergencies in the family, community and society, women have had to adapt themselves to these new roles, as first generation workers, heads of households, and once in the public domain, as negotiators for justice and peace. While the urgent necessity to protect their families on a daily basis has often eclipsed the need to protect their own rights as women, they continue to defy the militant fundamentalist agenda that threatens their secular role in the family and society. These women demonstrate how their individual and collective development and help can determine their well-being even if they have to deal daily with great deprivation and crises.


Dr Amina Ather said...

thanks this was wonderful to read abut success of women :)


Such a passionate writer and worker of the society.