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 13, 2012

Valley of Death

62% of Kashmiris attempting suicide are women

'17,000 Have Attempted Suicide'

Mudassir Kuloo (Kashmir Monitor)

Srinagar: With the incidents of suicides having risen to alarming proportions in the Valley, various studies have revealed that females outnumber males in attempting suicides in Kashmir. The youth in the age group of 15-26 years are found to be most likely to end their lives.

According to a research conducted by noted sociologist of the Kashmir University, Dr Bashir Ahmad Dabla, it has been revealed that '62-percent' of all the suicides in the Valley involved females.

Various studies have revealed sharp increase in suicides in Kashmir in the last two decades of armed conflict, with over 17,000 persons having taken this extreme step.

Experts believe that the real number is far higher as a lot of suicide cases go unreported because of the social stigma and the feeling of shame attached to the act.And this year too, so far the incidents of suicides is refusing to show any decline, which certainly is and should be a matter of grave concern for all. “I did a research on 27, 00 suicide cases for three years and found that 62-percent of all the suicides in the Valley involved females, while 38-percent people who commits suicide are males. The suicide ratio is almost same in rural as well as in urban,” Dabla told The Kashmir Monitor. “Youth in the age group of 15-26 years were found to be mostly likely to end their life. Although cases of teenagers below 13-years old, ending their life too have also come to light,” Dabla said.

Dabla claimed the conflict situation has given rise to various social tendencies among females which directly or indirectly leads them to suicide. “In these conflict years, many females were molested, raped, interrogated and were harassed through various ways. A big portion of females became half widows, whose husbands disappeared in these years. These female victims many a times over react and commit suicide,” he said.

“Social causes are mostly linked to family pressure, marital status, career, strained relationships and the inability to compete at social levels,” Dabla said. He further stated that the graph of suicide rates among females is going in the upward direction. Observers believe that in most of the cases of suicides are among females, the reasons are dowry, interference from in-laws, misunderstandings, giving birth to female babies, parental pressure, tough competition in studies and career, feeling of being neglected, are the main reasons for these suicidal attempts among female youth.

“Amongst teenagers, examination stress, love affairs and parental pressures are found to be prominent reasons for suicides,” said a psychiatrist, Dr Muneer. “Females outnumber males in attempting suicide and is increasingly alarming. 60-percent of Kashmiris have suffered from one or other psychological disorder or stress at least once in life,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.

A research psychologist, Irfan Majeed believes that a suicide among females is rising because of dowry and break up of relationships. “When a girl feels anxiety and uncomfortable owing to dowry and breaking of relationship, she starts thinking and gets involved in acute depression and is the stage when she attempts suicide,” Irfan told The Kashmir Monitor. Irfan believes that those who attempts suicide first share it with her family or friends about the suicidal tendencies, then take the extreme step.

Experts suggest that society in general and the parents in particular must reorient themselves to the changed circumstances so as to fight the problem. Experts believe that these female suicide tendency patients need to be kept under the continued medical supervision, but due to lack of proper counselling to these patients, they remain “void of”. There is a counselling centre for these patients at the Police Control Room (PCR), but “female patients do not come forward for treatment when they come to know that there are no exclusive counselling centres for them and that the main centre is located at the PCR,” said an official at the PCR.

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