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.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gender Inequality

Roshan Ara raises health and safety issues related to violence against women

(Ms. Roshan Ara, 45, was born in Warihama, in Budgam district. She attended the Government High School Aripanthan, and the Government Higher Secondary School Beeru. She graduated from the Government Womens College (GWC) Srinagar, University of Kashmir, and the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi. Ms. Roshan Ara has degrees in B.Com, M.Com, M.A. Economics, B.Ed, M.Phil, Diploma in Women's Empowerment and Development, and Ph.D. work underway titled 'Managing Work and Family Roles: A Study of White Collar Working Women in Kashmir.' She is presently a Lecturer in Commerce, Department of School Education, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar. During leisure time she enjoys reading newspapers & journals, staying engaged on Women's Issues, and writing articles for newspapers & journals.)


Violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men. It is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men. Violence against women manifests itself as rape, molestation, sati, dowry deaths, kidnapping and abduction, domestic violence, sexual harassment, eve-teasing and other forms of murder like female infanticide etc. Reporting of such crimes is invisible because of social stigma and lack of evidence etc. Women are victims of scientific advancement which has added to their miseries in various forms. Women are more prone to HIV aids and other sexual diseases than men. Women are victimised on the basis of race, ethnic identity, class and caste. All wars and armed conflicts lead to violation of women’s rights. In order to take revenge from their enemies men have used women as a prey. They assault them sexually and thus, get a feeling of superiority. Women who lose their husbands and sons are snatched from their earning hands. They feel guilty when they blame themselves for this sort of crisis.

Everyday women are physically tormented, humiliated, threatened, sexually abused and even murdered by their partners or by their family members. But often we don’t hear about this violence because women being victims of violence feel ashamed, lonesome and afraid to speak out. Women are subjected to violence at every stage of their lives in and outside their homes and even in their mothers’ wombs. Violence against women evolves from her inferior status in a patriarchal society. The traditional beliefs and myths resist women to talk about the abuses they face within and outside their family.

Revealing the lifespan of a woman highlights that violence affects her throughout her life and even before her birth in the form of sex selection tests.

The dilemma is that the society does no longer understand the problem of violence and doesn’t feel its pain. Instead the society blames women for it and considers it as their destiny. Once we understand and declare it as ‘violence’ we will be ready to change and solve this problem. No individual has the right to suppress the power of another individual as it is a violation of human rights. No religion allows its believers to add to the miseries of women but to extend them their love and care. By being violent with a biologically weak person, a man is able to find a convenient release for his pent-up-frustrations. It offers him a quick end to a disagreement without having to talk about the problem. Whenever a man uses violence, he feels he wins and gets his way. He’s actually not aware of the duties of a husband towards his wife. He is not aware of the fact that he owes his existence to women in many forms. As a son he depends on the mother, as a brother on his sister and as a husband on his wife. If men consider women as their property, then it is their moral duty to nurture them righteously.

In the 19th century in the West, men were legally entitled to beat their wives if they misbehaved. Those men were given the status of being men in real sense in that society. Violence hits women in every nook and corner of the world. It crosses all borders, religions, races and caste distinctions.

Worldwide, 1.5 lakh women become the victims of various crimes annually. Further an estimated 5 crore women face physical and psychological violence every year throughout the world. Out of 10 refugees and displaced persons, 8 are women and children. Worldwide annually 2 million girls are introduced into commercial sex market. Globalisation has added to the sufferings of women. At least 60 million girls who would otherwise be expected to be alive are missing in Asia as a result of sex selection abortions. It is a bitter truth that medical professionals are active members of this crime.

1 out of 4 girls is sexually abused before attaining the age of 14 and 1 out of 6 girls doesn’t live to see her 15th birthday. Three lakh girls die every year throughout the world and 50% of girls in the age group of 5-9 years are illiterate. No doubt PNDT Act 1994 prevents sex selection tests but still people illegally commit this crime. By killing female foetus, we are not only killing one girl but it is the murder of womanhood. The need of the hour is to eliminate ‘discrimination’ and not ‘women’. Woman is sold like a hot cake through international borders. Rape and sexual harassment are a constant threat to all women folk. Women’s trafficking has been a huge source of earning for the traffickers. The profits gained from trafficking of women exceed 8 billion dollars annually which is comparable to lucrative trade in guns and drugs. Women are easily caught in the traps of traffickers in the hope of getting a better job and a better life. The indecent representation of women’s body is another form of commercial violence of women. For selling petty articles, businessmen use the body of women as an attraction for the customers. Thus violence takes a devastating toll on the lives of women, on their families and on the society as a whole.

Another form of modern violence against women has come to fore which is termed as ‘surrogate motherhood’. In this type of violence mother’s womb is hired for fertility purposes for meagre sums of money. This has led to fertility tourism where so many commercial fertility clinics are run and the reproductive rights of younger women are violated. Poor and ignorant women are forced to put their lives at risk and it leads to a form of commodifying and dismembering the female body. Domestic violence is another form of violence which is common throughout the world. It is a silent killer which has claimed the lives of so many women and goes unreported and un-checked.

The violence against women should be recognised as a public health concern. A nation can prosper and flourish only to the extent that it is composed of healthy and joyous families. As family is the foundation of all the larger social structures, the basic social cell on which all other agencies depend for their very existence and first formation of their members. A woman not only transmits the foundation of culture to her child but she is the keeper of tradition in society, the custodian of morals and all good manners.

Women are the nurturers and the trainers of their whole human race since their infancy. If she is defective and deficient, her child will be deficient and defective. Therefore, women’s imperfection implies a condition of imperfection in all mankind. The children of such parents who live in violent atmospheres become volatile and learn to behave the same way. Boys in these families copy their father’s aggressive behaviour. They start to tease girls, catch hold of them and beat them and harass them because they imbibe these qualities from their fathers. On the contrary, girls of these families show destructive behaviour, become meek, timid and submissive. Children of these families become victims of so many diseases and psychological problems. They do not eat, sleep or grow well as compared to the children of happier families.

Being parents we should try to avoid all violent and aggressive situations. We should raise our children to lead non-violent lives and teach them to work for finding peaceful solutions for their problems. Violence free life will help women to develop a good health and self-esteem. A Woman with good self esteem can make a valuable contribution to her family and community. She will be able to cope up with her day-to-day problems and better able to work for changes that can improve her life and society. Self-esteem is an important part of good mental health. It begins to develop in childhood.

Thus, the amount of self-esteem a girl develops depends on how she is treated by the important people in her life – her parents, her brothers, her teachers, her neighbours and the spiritual guides.

What this violence does to women is hardly visible and measurable. Due to violence, women lack a sense of worth, self confidence and mental health.Violence leads them to anxiety and depression and sleeping and eating disorders. Violence leads to psychological disturbance and to physical disorders and even to death. A large percentage of violence in India is a dowry related one. Violence is a major cause of physical injuries to women.

Women face psychological violence, emotional violence and economic violence wherein emotional violence is far more damaging than physical one as this violence erodes her self esteem. When an abusive relationship becomes violent, it is much harder for a woman to live. A woman due to violence is not only adversely affected but it affects her children and in turn the whole society. Violence during pregnancy leads women to premature deliveries and even to death. Physical abuse leads women to emotional disorders. Thus women facing violence, in the absence of any kind of support at their family and communities level, feel helpless and experience threat of death due to repeated violence. Violence against women acts as a big hurdle in their empowerment. Women who are victims of violence generally need counseling to deal with mental and emotional trauma. Sexual abuse of women leads them to emotional and behavioural damage and sometimes it can be fatal. Thus, to improve their self-esteem and gain their confidence they need special counseling. All available socio-economic measures and existing laws have not been sufficient to provide relief to a large majority of women. Women always get unfair and unequal treatment.

The psyche of men has to change and they need to be very careful and dutiful in dealing with their women in any role. Violence needs to be totally eradicated from our plagued society and measures have to be taken to make it a serene one. Let us all join our hands and pledge to bring about the radical changes in our society. A Woman must herself exert for attaining great perfection to be man’s equal in the otherwise unequal world.

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