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Woman in Kashmir: Patriarchy in an ‘unIslamic’ Society!

Woman in Kashmir: Patriarchy in an ‘unIslamic’ Society!
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“To whoever, male or female, does good deeds and has faith, We shall give a good life and reward them according to the best of their actions.” Chapter: An Nahl, Verse:  97

Humans have need of their fellow creatures. They are to observe the rights and wants of others and restrict their individual freedoms to the limits of societal laws. Such restrictions are not adverse to humans, they benefit humanity. Additionally, living in complete freedom and unquestionably following one’s restrictions must be endorsed since it is to everyone’s sheer advantage.

Traditionally being the Muslim majority Valley one should witness the practical glimpses of all the Islamic values in Kashmir reversely performed. We are taught to respect the women and her agency within the paradigm of Islam. Contrary to the teachings, woman is considered as property here and is used as possessive thing one has a monopoly on. Sometimes divorced on the issue of not doing all the house chores that Islam does not allow you to make them done. Islam sets the woman at the highest level of reputation and honor. Actively she is the spring of love and happiness. She is the engineer of the great civilizations and the oozing center for the success of societies.

Islam considers woman as an effective agent in the social life prosperity and defines her in the highest position of human being. It also mentions some great women as the role model for human beings.

As said by Moulana Rumi “Woman is a ray of God. She is not that earthly beloved: she is creative, not created”

Despite this prestigious importance domestic violence has been increasing at an alarming rate in so called Muslim Majority valley. Even though most of the people refuse to acknowledge the prevalence of domestic violence in Kashmir, the recent reports and studies prove otherwise. Such incidents taking place in Kashmir on daily basis against the natural rights of woman as beating wives, daughter in laws, to harsh depression or to death.

Most of the women don’t speak about it as they believe (or are made to believe) ‘Ye che ase Taqdeeras lekheth’ (It’s written in our destiny) and they have to live with it. A large number of women do not see such acts as violence even if they believe them to be justified. Thus, wife beating is not seen as an extreme response if she does not perform her wifely duties adequately, such as having meals ready on time or adequately caring for children.

Since time immemorial, patriarchy has always been an instrument of oppression and exploitation against women resulting in the various forms of gender based violence. It occurs in all settings; at work, in the home, in the streets, in situations of armed conflict and the community at large. The most significant fact is that women experience violence primarily at the hands of men they know and within the so-called ‘safe heaven’ of the home and family.

This is further complicated by a common belief that violent acts are an expression of love and merely a desire to help the subject be a better person. A large number of the women are unwilling to file a grievance or a complaint of this nature due to the disgrace that could befall them and their family later while others are scared of legal issues in filing a complaint.

Violence against women is not a new phenomenon. Women have to bear the brunt of domestic, public, physical as well as emotional and mental violence against them, which affects her status in the society to the larger extent.

The problem in the mindset of people from all sections of the society rich or poor, upper class or middle class, educated or illiterate, rural or urban the women are being annihilated everywhere.

The Women’s Police Station in Ram Bagh, reports that more than 2800 domestic abuse cases are filed every year. But more than half are withdrawn due to family pressure or some sort of settlement between the parties. According to sources around 550 cases were reported in 2013 and the numbers increased to 3000 in 2014. The police station, on an average, receives over a dozen complaints of a domestic dispute, every day.

Research indicates that more than 40 percent of women in Kashmir are physically or emotionally abused by the husbands or the in-laws. Some are of the opinion that dowry; misunderstandings between the couple, birth of a girl child are the common reasons behind marital discord leading to an increase in the domestic violence in the Valley.

A core issue is that intimate partner violence and abuse at the hands of the in-laws is considered to be mainly a social issue. It is only in extreme cases such as deaths and serious injuries, that the authorities take notice of the offense. But, even then it’s too late for the victim as there is usually not much left to be done except for investigation, trials etc.

Abdul Rashid Hanjura, a social activist, and the lawyer is of the opinion that the situation in the Valley is aggravated due to the fact that many such incidents go unreported and thus the guilty get no punishment. Even if such events do get reported, due to low (negligible) conviction rate, criminals have the guts to go on committing crimes unabashedly because they know the severe action will not be taken against them.

Being a Muslim majority Valley, all the controversies, misunderstandings, and disputes must be resolved by any Islamic scholar (Hakim Sharah), who could surely resolve all the internal problems of families through Islamic laws. But due to inactiveness of current Islamic scholars in the valley, they are compelled to seek justice anywhere and fearfully knock the door of Police Stations.

Therefore such mounting incidents of domestic violence compelled the state government to pass the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) in 2010. Since the Act was passed, very few efforts were made for the proper implementation of the Act, though the domestic violence against women is rising in Kashmir. The state government seems to be too lethargic in providing an effective protection too to the aggrieved persons under PWDVA which indicate that the state is reluctant in fulfilling the promise as mandated by the law. The then Minister of Social Welfare of Jammu and Kashmir in 2012 clearly blamed the lack of funds for being the cause of improper implementation of the Act.

Again, the client regime at the helm of affairs should not be held responsible for not taking any stringent actions against the guilty for it’s an occupational apparatus. The panacea to patriarchy definitely lies not in buying imported terminologies but in Islamizing the society and we need to be the foot soldiers of the project


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