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Domestic Violence in Kashmir at an Alarming Stage

Domestic Violence in India

After her marriage, when she got pregnant for the first time, Sheeba, a domestic violence victim unfortunately lost her child after four months. But she could not even express her grief as her sister-in-law came to the hospital and used violence against her there.

“My sister-in-law always interfered in our household affairs, even in our personal affairs. When I had a miscarriage at 4 months, I received a call from my sister-in-law and when I answered the call she said, don’t have a physical relationship with my brother for up to one year and after listening to all this I was shocked how she could say this. But unfortunately, after two months I got pregnant again and my husband took me to the Makhdoom Sahib shrine where I myself climbed 120 steps which is very difficult for a pregnant woman but we had heard many times that when Allah is with you nothing will happen to you and fortunately, both me and my baby was safe,” she said.

She added “I am a working woman and oftentimes I am late home. One day I was late and my mother-in-law and my husband hit me. My husband hit my abdomen. I started bleeding and I ran from there because my brother’s house was nearby. When I got there, my brother somehow managed my condition because he is a pharmacist. The other day they took me to the New City hospital and after that I filed a case against my in-laws”.

Concluding she questioned, “Why do parents marry their idle son, when he is not able to spend a penny for himself? How can he take the burden of another person?”

In Jammu and Kashmir, it took a long time to get the Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2010 in place. More than 40% of Kashmiri women experience physical and psychological abuse at the hands of their husbands or in-laws, according to a research study, ‘A study of violence within and outside of women in Kashmir’, published in an international journal.

“Everyday domestic violence in Kashmir is always widely spreading. Frequent raids in Kashmir also add to the numbers. Following the lifting of Article 370 and the Covid lockdown, there is a huge increase in domestic violence cases and these are only cases that are reported, the majority of them go unreported,” Advocate Arsheeda Bashir told Ground Report.

Talking about the factors that lead to domestic violence she said, “Disagreements between the partners over a lot of domestic issues, situational factors and psychological factors and male dominance.”

She further added that, “There are a number of reasons why Kashmiri women are afraid to speak out against abuse. Lack of financial independence is a fundamental reason women condone abuse because they have no way to take care of them. Another major problem is the lack of support from their birth families. When women report violence in Kashmir, the first thing they are told to do is to be patient and that everything will be fine. They are told to stay in their marital homes no matter what. When women have nowhere to go they dwell in the house of abuse and tolerate violence uncomplainingly.”

“Now we see women coming forward and speaking about it but in most cases we see women prefer to remain silent because of the social pressure that is very unfortunate, they only think what people will say, they don’t think that nothing is more important than her life”, said  Arsheeda added.

She further added, “It is not always a married woman who is subjected to domestic violence, sometimes unmarried females are also subjected to domestic violence too.”

“There is not a set paradigm following which we can stop Domestic violence. We have to collectively work for the eradication of this menace. Along with putting an end to the abuse we also need to be aware of women to stop tolerating any and all forms of abuse. We as a society need to speak up for abuse where and when we encounter it. The victim should also go to the nearby police station and report a file against abuse. We shouldn’t act as mute spectators to it. Families need to be supportive of their daughters when they report abuse at the earliest stage. There is a long way to go but these small actions will bring a big change in our society,” she cocluded.

Ground Report talked to the administrator of Sakhi, a one-stop centre for women in distress, she said,” Women from different districts come here and we help them, give them suggestions on how they can get justice. It is a ministry program that certainly helps women who are dealing with any form of violence. At the centre we offer free medical help, psychological help, police help or any other legal help to women who are facing or have faced any form of abuse.”

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“Domestic violence means when two people, two partners are dating or married, in which one partner is sexually, emotionally or mentally abusing another partner,” Irfan Attari, chairman  & founder of Kashmir Youth Web told Ground Report.

He also stated that America first enacted the Violence Against Women Act in 1993 with the goal of keeping women safe and stopping domestic violence.

He also said “Because a woman does not act, this is increasing rapidly. If we don’t talk about it, it will become dangerous for our society. The situation in Kashmir is getting so worse that they are now burning girls alive, even educated people are not reacting to it.”  He also said that “Srinagar’s Acid attack on a girl was such a shameful act.”

He went on to say that there are many issues that create rifts in families, and in other cases, these family issues turn into domestic violence. “Top of the list is the dowry, which we believe marriages are made in heaven and celebrated on earth, but giving our daughters dowries makes them feel underprivileged,” he said.

Domestic Violence is at an alarming stage in Kashmir and government should have a look on this, he added, “We can’t say whether it happens in rural or urban areas but most cases come from rural areas because in some parts of rural areas their is still a poor mentality.”

He further added that, “Men are also victims of domestic violence because some females take advantage of their position and make a false statements against men to get some money.”

 “You don’t have to be an expert; you just have to have a desire to make a difference in the community” he added.

Various NGOs work for women’s safety and spread awareness against domestic violence in Kashmir and Mehram: women cell Kashmir is one of them. While talking with Arshi Qureshi, Co-founder of Mehram: Women Cell Kashmir, said, “Unfortunately, domestic Violence in Kashmir is increasing or we can say reporting of domestic violence is increasing because of extension stress as in past there was not much awareness among the people about domestic violence or there were a lot of stigmas to reporting domestic violence.”

“There are a lot of stigmas attached to this, the burden of family or saving a relationship is usually on women or fear of losing child custody that is why don’t raise their voice,” she added, “Men are also the victims of domestic violence but very less as compared to women.”

Talking about the number of cases they have dealt with she said, “We have registered more than 250 cases of domestic violence.” She also said, “As a society we should spread awareness and teach a female her basic rights so that in future she can handle any situation by herself.”

Another victim with a supportive father: Shaziya (name changed), who divorced her husband with the support of her family. Shaziya has had a job since she was in the marital household but was asked by her in-laws to give her entire salary or else she will have to face the worst. “I was intimidated by my in-laws into giving them my monthly salary or I would have to leave the house, although my husband was also on his family’s side. It was because of my family support, especially my father who stood by my side and always said whatever you decide I will be with you this statement always gave me the courage to go against my in-laws and after 1 year of marriage to fight divorced my husband.”

She has a message for everyone, “if your family supports you and doesn’t pressure a girl, then she can face any battle.”

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