ISLAMABAD – Although, at present everyone in Kashmir is being immensely subjugated, but women are the biggest victims of this inhumane siege, Al Jazeera TV reported Wednesday.
In its detailed featured story, which is based on interviews of Kashmir women, the TV reported that after August 5, when India revoked Kashmir’s special status and followed the move with a military lock down, women feel more persecuted, even more than the men of the valley.
A 20-year-old student, Uzma Javed had returned home to spend Eid with her relatives, but instead of celebrating, she found herself caged in while outside, armed Indian paramilitary forces manned largely empty streets.
“At present everyone in Kashmir is being immensely subjugated. But women are the biggest victims of this inhumane siege,” she told Al Jazeera.
Javed was particularly worried about a female friend who lives close by, who she had not heard from in over a week.
“I don’t know how Munaza is doing. The men somehow manage to sneak out for prayers … We can’t even do that,” she added.
After the revocation of article 370, which granted autonomy to the region, India put Kashmir under a complete military lockdown. Phone and internet lines were shut off, leaving more than seven million people in the region unable to contact the outside world.
“The way women of Kashmir are exoticised and objectified on a daily basis in India, the way their bodies are portrayed as vulnerable and used to create fear and intimidation, has heightened the sense of being preyed upon,” said Samreen, a 22-year-old make-up artist from Srinagar.
“We feel persecuted, even more than the men of the valley today.”
With communications lines shut off, Samreen was unable to contact her sister in New Delhi. “I wanted to book a ticket to just see if she is okay. We can’t even do that,” she said. To book a flight, she would have to go to the airport, some 20 kilometres away.
“My mother has been worried sick,” she said, adding that she had attempted to get to the airport on a scooter with her father but the presence of Indian forces prevented her.
Misbah Rehsi, a 22-year-old Srinagar resident, was unsurprised at the growing sexism, explaining that the BJP’s attempt to position itself as a “saviour” for Muslim women is not genuine.
“I hope the people of India are able to comprehend the misogyny that runs in the party and see how there isn’t actually any intention of protecting and saving Kashmiri women,” she said.
Kavita Krishnan, a member of the Communist Party of India (CPIM), took activists from India to Kashmir after August 5. She said women and girls were anxious given the increased paramilitary and military presence.
“They told us they had found it extremely difficult between August 5 and 9 to even get milk and vegetables for their kids, due to the total curfew. They were also deeply distressed at the widespread illegal detention of children as young as nine or 10 years old, and teenagers.”
Krishnan said that some of the women and girls also spoke of their fears of “being molested during such raids”.
Indian occupation forces have previously been accused of sexual assault in Kashmir. On February 23, 1991, as India carried out a large military operation, soldiers allegedly raped more than 30 women in two villages, Kunan and Poshpora, in the Kupwara district
In a July report, the UN said, “There has been no progress in the Kunan Poshpora mass-rape case from 1991 and authorities continue to thwart attempts of the survivors to get justice.”