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 22, 2011

Condemnable By Any Book

Tanvir narrates a horrifying story of domestic violence

(Mr. Tanvir Sadiq, 33, was born in Srinagar and attended the Burn Hall School. He completed his Bachelor's degree in Information technology and management from Orissa University. He is the youngest Municipal Corporator of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and was elected from Zadibal Constituency. He has contributed regularly to local newspapers like the Kashmir Times, Kashmir Images, Greater Kashmir, and Kashmir Monitor. He was associated with many programs on Disaster Management of J & K and did a couple of programs on highlighting urban poverty. He is active in State politics and his interests are writing and social work.)

A Curse Called Domestic Violence

It was almost midnight that I received a call from a party activist Shahid who wanted to meet me. I was surprised and while looking at the watch I told him to come in the morning and before I could hang up he told me that he was outside my house. I asked the guard to let him in sensing something was majorly not right. As soon as I walked inside the meeting room I saw around a dozen men and women totally distressed with tears in their eyes. One of the male members started the horrifying tale of yet another victim of domestic violence.

The story was so extremely shocking that it sends shivers down my spine even today. It was with a sense of dismay that I heard the story about Muzaffar Ahmed the husband and Syed Dua the wife (names changed). The narration by the family of Syed Dua took around one hour as they unfolded the series of events one after another. I could see those grim faces as one of the members from the group was narrating this tale. It really was painful and sad. I consoled them a bit and made them comfortable before listening to them again.

It started a day earlier before Syed Dua was brutally murdered by her husband. Muzzafar had come to collect his wife who had been at her maternal home for a few weeks. The whole family was surprised to see him wanting to take her back. After continuous pestering the family agreed to send the girl with the husband as he insisted that he wanted to take her to attend a marriage function of a relative.

After leaving the house Muzzafar took his wife to his own house instead to the wedding with an excuse that he had some work. The whole house was empty and Muzzafar choose the timing very cleverly. According to Syed Dua’s family, Muzaffar took her inside the room and started beating her ruthlessly; I am told that a young girl who was playing on the road went inside the house after hearing the cries of Dua for help. Muzzafar took the young girl inside and put her in one of the corners before again beating his wife. The gruesome murder that followed is beyond my comprehension. To be precise, Muzzafar took a knife slit her both wrists first, as she screamed in agony he stabbed her twice. According to that young girl the victim was still alive and begging for mercy. Muzzafar did not relent and hit the final blow into her chest. I’m told that the knife pierced through her heart had come out from the other side. What is more shocking is when Muzaffar tried to take out the murder weapon out of her chest it was so deeply penetrated that the wooden handle just popped out instead of the knife . I was stunned to listen to all this and believe you me I stood up from my chair and couldn’t just react.

The murderer was finally arrested after a couple of weeks from outside the state and I was told that he didn’t have any remorse. Like me, many of the readers may wonder why did he kill her and maybe we would never know the real truth but whatever may be the reason, as they say, when a human dies so dies the humanity. This is one such incident of domestic violence among thousands of them happening without any reasons even while I write.

I feel, if any man hits his wife even once, the marriage is over. The misrepresentation of the Quran to validate spousal abuse is itself a crime. The famous ayah using the term daraba means to travel, to get out, to strike, to set up, to give examples, to take away/ignore, to condemn, to seal, to cover, to explain, to turn away as the last of three measures to take against one’s wife, most likely for some heinous crime resulting in a divorce. In the Qur'an, it has a diverse connotation depending on the context. For example, it means to ‘strike out’ on a journey, and in the phrase ‘daraba Allah mathalan, it means ‘Allah gives or sets as an example.’ I believe the translation "set an example" could certainly apply to this verse. It’s the husband who sets the examples to his wife on how she should behave. I don't think the right translation for daraba is 'hit', since the Qur'an does not encourage domestic violence. On the contrary, there are quite a few verses that command a respectful and kind treatment towards women.

Unfortunately, domestic violence is very much alive and thriving in our society. Usually by the time the physical abuse starts in a relationship, the emotional and psychological abuse has already destroyed all the dignity of the victim. Even today, there are still groups of people who have the mindset that women are not equal to men and are just sexual objects.

This week’s headlines was way too encouraging when I heard that the Omar lead Government has notified that Provisions of J&K Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act shall come into force immediately. Before even the act is enforced we have to change our mindset and agree upon that Domestic violence does exist and is a major problem in our society. It knows no racial, religious, gender, or educational boundaries. I believe as responsible citizens we do have the power and the ability to build a society in which we honour women. I know it’s easier said than done, but we can try it. We can start by educating the new generations. We need Intellectuals and prominent citizens who are willing to contribute. We need trained policemen who know that "domestic violence" victims have to be dealt with carefully. We need agencies that will address homelessness and poverty. We need legislators who understand that such a thing needs funding and stringent laws.

And finally, when you next look towards your daughter, sister mother or wife think about someone out there who is or has been a victim of domestic violence and needs help, It’s a challenge for all of us to break the silence, turn disbelief into anger, change defencelessness into encouragement and convert resignation into educated action. If nothing else, after reading this piece kiss the forehead of your mother, sister, daughter or wife, and thank them for all they have done or have been doing all along against all odds. Do this to reiterate that they are Allah’s Rehmat to the mankind.

(The names have been changed to protect the victim’s identity)

No comments: