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Shattering the silence: Revealing the Tragedy of Kashmiri Women in IIOJK

Shattering the silence: Revealing the Tragedy of Kashmiri Women in IIOJK

By Manahil Jaffer

 

United Nations General Assembly’s declaration in 1993 paved way for annually observing the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25. The declaration defines violence against women and urges nations to unite in eradicating all forms of violence against women. Expanding the UN’s efforts, Pakistan has taken significant strides in legislating and implementing laws to protect women’s rights and combat gender-based violence. It has enacted progressive laws, such as the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act, the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act, and has made amendments to criminal law, emphasizing the empowerment of women.

 

The country has made commitments at national and international forums to guarantee women’s rights, and the representation of women in the National Assembly is noteworthy. In 2023, as the world observes International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, it is crucial to shed light on the harrowing evils and gender based violence faced by women of India as well as Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

 

Despite global efforts, violence against women remains a pervasive problem in India. India, according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll, is labeled world’s most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence. This alarming situation extends to IIOJK. Amidst the picturesque landscapes and political complexities of the region, a dark chronicle unfolds— the use of sexual violence as a 'weapon of war' against Kashmiri women. This article delves into the distressing plight of Kashmiri women, emphasizing the urgent need for international attention and intervention.

 

In the Indian Occupied Kashmir, sexual violence is systematically used as a state-sponsored tool by Indian security forces. The Research Section of Kashmir Media Service highlights shocking statistics, indicating the widowing of thousands of women, molestation cases, and the martyrdom of hundreds due to state terrorism. The draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) shields Indian security forces from prosecution, and reports indicate widespread use of rape as a counter-insurgency tactic.

 

Indian security forces have reportedly raped 11,224 Kashmiri women between 1989 to 2022 and their ages ranged from 11 to 60 years old. Reports from various human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, point to the horrifying reality that Kashmiri women face. Rape is used not only as a means of punishment and humiliation but also as a method of retaliation during reprisal attacks.

 

The militarized zones in IIOJK create an atmosphere of constant fear for Kashmiri women, who live under the constant threat of mass rape, enforced disappearance, and torture. The international community must wake up to the gravity of situation in IIOJK and hold Indian forces accountable for their actions.

Despite being a signatory to United Nations and UN Human Rights Council, Indian government consistently denies access to UNHRC investigators in the region. The abrogation of Article 370 has further intensified the trend of sexual violence, as documented by Human Rights Watch. Modi government's Hindutva supremacist ideology has perpetuated the use of rape and molestation as tools of war and collective punishment. This blatant violation of international humanitarian and human rights law demands immediate attention.

The world must not remain silent in the face of such heinous acts. The international community must press for investigations into all cases of sexual violence, provide reparations to victims, and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggles faced by women globally.

 

But in IIOJK, the plight of Kashmiri women is particularly dire, with sexual violence being wielded as a weapon of war. The international community must act decisively, condemning these atrocities and demanding accountability from the Indian government. It is time to put an end to the nightmare that Kashmiri women endure and to ensure a future where they can live free from the constant threat of violence

 

Author profile: The author is a graduate of international relations from NDU. Her interest lies in the domain of foreign affairs, terrorism and politics of Pakistan.

 

 

*Opinions expressed in this article are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The South Asia Times   

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