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.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Women Empowerment Through Women's Self-Awareness

They are the members of the larger family known as humanity. God created them as inferior to none. Then why does our society deny justice to women? Fareeda Shouq tries to find an answer to the disturbing question of gender discrimination

Justice Beyond Gender

Srinagar: Women’s God’s most beautiful creation on earth. It is a symbol of wisdom, origin, motherhood, energy and nectar. And it is only the combination of these qualities that makes the sun of a nation rise. Everything good in this world comes from woman.

The origin of the child is mother; a woman. Schiller has rightly said, “Woman is a beautiful creature - a consumer and a producer, a protector and a provider, a power of tolerance, an embodiment of love and affection and epitome of integrity and understanding, all the qualities wrapped in one.” Women constitute only one half of world but without their presence the survival of the world is unimaginable.

If women will be given an opportunity, they could be successful in any field. But it is very sad to find out that women are subjected to torture and atrocities. Why there is large scale discrimination against women? Why is the desire for a son so strong in every family! Even we deny the girl child the right to be born! And her only crime is that SHE IS A GIRL! Is girlhood a stigma? Can we dream of a society with just only male members? It is a matter of shame and for our society that we keep hearing news about rape, molestation, burning and teasing of women.

It is clearly pointed out that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. The UN-charter of human rights states that there should be no discrimination on the ground of religion, race, sex or place of birth. No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman treatment or punishment. Sadly enough, for three billion of the world’s women, human rights seem mainly linked with one gender only, male.

Today the atrocities against women start even before they are born. With the connivance of greedy doctors, scores of parents in certain parts of the country in their eagerness to have sons only, get rid of daughters through sex determination test, indulging in the crime of female foeticide.

In India, discrimination in the education of a girl is more common in rural areas and urban slums. In many countries we have heard of killing, burning and kidnapping of women and girls. In India, according to the National Commission for Women (NCW) the crime graph against the women continues to be on the upswing. Home, sweet home is usually regarded as the safe and comfortable heaven for women and child but here too women find life nightmarish with the very husbands supposed to protect them making life miserable for many of them.

Under the ‘Cradle Baby’ scheme in Tamil Nadu cradles are kept in public health centers and the parents who do not want a female baby could put her into the cradle and walk off. Cases of wife beating and bride burning have become common. Development of women who represent 48.2% of the total Indian population has been receiving the attention of both plans and policy makers since independence.

The need to bring women folk into the mainstream of national development has now become a major concern. Does it mean that there are no rules or laws relating to the protection of women? No absolutely not. We have countless laws at our disposal for women. The constitution of India under article 14 guarantees equal pay for equal work for both male and female The state has enacted various legislative measures to provide protection to women against the social discrimination, violence, atrocities to prevent child marriage, dowry etc. by passing various acts. Efforts have been made to raise the status of women in the fields of health and family welfare, education, employment and training.

Thus the common question would be that what is the reason behind the rise of crime and violence against women? The main reason for the oppression of women, their exploitation and their inability to get protection and justice is neither the non-availability of law nor the non-availability of sympathetic organizations. There are considerable amount of constitutional, legislative, educational, and social action that has gone into it, but still in majority of the cases of crime against women, justice is a rarity. Almost 70% of the crime against women goes unreported whether inside or outside a family. The simple reason is reluctance on part of women to report such crimes due to social or domestic pressure.

We are ourselves giving boost to this criminality by maintaining silence either due to unawareness or due to domestic pressures. We are ourselves giving boost to this injustice by maintaining silence either due to unawareness or due to domestic or social pressure. We prefer to maintain silence and this way allow the criminal element to go unpunished. In the present situation, the law enforcing agencies alone can not be blamed. They too function under certain constraints and a lack of co-operation is their major handicap. Unless a women herself reports, the situation will not improve and exploitation will continue. They are ignorant of their own rights and privileges and have no access to justice. There is public non-cooperation in a majority of cases. Public usually do not bother to help the law enforcing agencies in collection of evidences. In case a woman dies in the premises of her in-laws, the compliant are made by her parents. They are not able to collect any evidence to substantiate their allegations due to the non-cooperation of the people in the vicinity of the crime.

Thus the need of the hour is social awareness among the women folk. The spread of legal literacy among them is extremely important and then procedures would go a long way towards meeting out justice to women. A well administered and socially relevant legal education is a pre-requisite for a proper dispensation of justice. There is to be greater emphasis on creating awareness amongst women on issue relating to her rights and social justice. Legal education and media awareness is very important. They have to fight it out. There active attitude can be of real help to them in distress and will only happen when women recognize their own strength.

(Rising Kashmir)

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