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, September 4, 2011

Unabashed Sexism

Rubina find men, especially Kashmiri men, still in a state of denial on women's equality

(Dr.Rubina Lone, 36, was born in Handwara. She did her schooling first from Wood Lands High School and then Mallinson Girls Higher Secondary School, Srinagar. She completed her MBBS from the Government Medical College (GMC) Srinaga,r and then her MD from the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS). Dr. Lone did her fellowship in Molecular Microbiology and Genetics form CJIL, Agra, in 2003 and is currently working as Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology, SKIMS Medical College, Srinagar. Apart from her job, she is involved in many community based social issues and and writes a weekly column, Postmortem, for the Kashmir Images.)

Male Chauvinism

I have given the best of myself and the best work of my life to help obtain political freedom for women, knowing that upon this rests the hope not only for the freedom of men but of the onward civilization of the world” – Mary S. Anthony.

“Did you ever feel gender discrimination in your professional life?” I was asked in a television interview the other day. Superfluous question! Of course I did, but then every woman does. Isn’t it an axiom rather than an exception, happening everywhere and to all of us? A stark and recent example of sexism is Hina Rabani Khar, Foreign Minister from Pakistan, who visited India and was judged according to the clothes and bags she adorned, thereby belittling what she stood for intellectually. And there you have it, despite the emancipation of women in the West, there has not been a single woman President in the United States yet – what can be more telling!

Sexism is a mindset that has the potential of affecting practically every aspect of women’s lives, preventing them from accomplishing their full potential.Picture this: As the plane reached cruising speed, the captain's voice crackled to welcome us aboard and give us details about the flight ahead. Almost immediately the guy next to me began to shift nervously in his seat. Not because we were being told of impending turbulence or being given giddy-making statistics about our altitude and speed. What unsettled him was the voice coming over the loud speaker. Our captain was a woman. With a female pilot at the helm, some immediately made comment about women drivers.

Why do men get instant bruises in head the moment any woman tries to match her shoulders with them? Why it takes the wind out of their sails as soon as they realise women are no more show pieces to adorn the world, but are walking neck to neck with them? Why they feel fathoms deep in troubled waters every time a smart woman comes near them? Ask them, and they deny it vehemently.

To get a man’s perspective on this, I asked one male colleague, “Why are Kashmiri men such chauvinists’. His clich├ęd reply, ‘We are just more protective towards our women not MCPs'. Protective! A place where the female to male ratio has hit the absolute pits, where every 1 in 4 women is a victim of domestic violence, where women are regarded as unfit when they are unable to bring forth male children - I would hardly call that protective.

While social constructionalists argue that men and women are essentially same and roles played by them are largely constructed by society, the essentialists suggest that the differences are biological. What ever the out come of the debate, the fact remains that in this patriarchal world, women get an inferior status.

Discrimination and biases are hidden by a veneer of non-existence in the more advanced countries. Conversely, lesser advanced a society, the more visible and obvious are the manifestations in which gender biases prevail and predominate.In a world full of male chauvinists, muscling your way is not easy. We as women face many a glitches, be it home or the work place. Albeit we walk with our head held high designating ourselves socially and culturally toned to 21st century but the reality isn’t parallel. Rousseau's observation that men are born free, yet everywhere they are in chains, is an apt description for condition of women in our society.We are rich in allegories that dishonour women.

So the question is how riveting are talks about liberation of women and equality for women today? Many people support the diaphanous talk that role of women within the society has changed, more women work than even before & most of them have careers. I call it diaphanous, because as far as I can see it is just talk – flimsy, airy and gossamer thin. Gender equality is still the toughest battle we are fighting and things will not change overnight.

A thorough change in the mindset of people is the most required solution to give equal and respectable opportunity for women. That being said, until this generation takes flight, for the womenfolk in God’s own country, it is still a long road to independence.

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