Srinagar, July 6: In 2019, Syed Hanaz, a young girl from Srinagar and in her graduation at the time, was overwhelmed by the grim stories of Kashmiri women including her batch mates’.
Disheartened, Hanaz decided to start a Facebook group named 'Yakjut' (Unity in Kashmiri) exclusively for women, where they could talk about their mental health and also ask for assistance regarding personal affairs while being anonymous.
“There were globally based groups helping their particular communities which inspired me to come up with something similar for the women of my homeland, who, fearing societal stereotypes, groan inwardly” Hanaz told Greater Kashmir.
On the first day she sent a message saying that the women can share their issues anonymously and to her surprise, the group gained 500 members within days.
Soon, a constant stream of messages related to domestic violence, abusive relationships, and mental trauma started to pour in, signifying the obscurity of women’s condition in the Valley, said Hanaz.
The very first case, Hanaz said was about domestic violence, “A woman had left her in-laws’ house along with her kids and needed to rent an accommodation. The group members helped her to get a place and arranged food for her,” Hanaz said.
Hanaz, now married, said that since the inception of the group, around a thousand domestically abused women have sought help on the platform, which has now grown to 42000 members. "Those married now act as a pillar of strength for newlywed brides in the group," Hanaz said.
With time, Hanaz’s initiative turned more helpful as underprivileged girls unable to marry received financial assistance through the group.
One of the members Juveira who had promoted her startup of sweet making on Yakjut, suggested that they should ask members to identify underprivileged girls who have attained a marriageable age and try to help them.
As per Juveira, through Yakjut, they have assisted the weddings of around fifty underprivileged girls.
The group admins asked for no funds but after confirming the case, they posted about it and then members would send help directly to the bride.
From bridal wear to items required for Wazwaan (Kashmiri wedding cuisine) almost everything was arranged by the members, Juveira said. Like Juveira, many girls have promoted their businesses on Yakjut. “Some were so successful that they opened their own outlets now,” Hanaz said.
To address the mental health of group members, Hanaz and her fellow group operators roped in a psychologist to counsel the victims, which she said, was helpful to a great extent.
Besides mental health, Yakjut is also a go to place for women needing suggestions regarding other health issues including ante-natal and postnatal health.
With women from different backgrounds and different issues thronging her group, Hanaz said she feels a sense of satisfaction as her aim of uniting Kashmiri women has been realised.
“I have never benefited monetarily, which is good because I never created the group with that intention,” a jubilant Hanaz said.
In addition to Hanaz, Yakjut has twelve caretakers: Samina, Nafhat, Tamana, Nazrana, Shabila, Aqsa, Maroofa, Faleen, Sabreen, Sabrina, Zoya and Aiman.