From past few years the domestic violence cases have seen a sharp rise in Kashmir. Women are harassed, mentally tortured, beaten, and even forced to take extreme step. These daughters, who are brought up by their parents with great love, become soft target of family aggression after marriage. This growing violence, unlike yesteryears, seems to move towards a mark where, God forbid, it can become a norm. Even in post modern era, this evil seems to have sent its roots deeper in our society. Well said by someone, that, if you want to destroy any particular civilization, destroy its women and the civilization, automatically, stands ruined. The prophet (pbuh) honored women, and was good to his family. But, we harass them and even force them to commit suicide.
These married girls including some professionals, work diligently to bring comfort to their families besides their domestic chores. In a hospital or at a clinic, she is a doctor who is eagerly waited for by hundreds of patients for check-up. But back home, with her her in-laws, she is not properly behaved. As teacher, her lectures are keenly attended to by students at a college or a university, but at back home, she is merely a Nosh (Bahu), to be dealt with strictly. For reasons like not bringing dowry or given birth to a male baby she is harassed often. She is a famous gynecologist, an engineer or a professor, but she is treated like a servant; how cruel, how ironical!
It truly pains, when it is heard that a mother has forced her son to divorce his wife for not being able to cook fish delectably or make gajer-ka-halwa. Though, this violence in the valley is as old as Lal Ded’s time yet from some years the graph has gone up. Besides mental tortures, these women are now forced to end their lives. In the bygone era, people, by and large, were ignorant and women harassment was due to illiteracy. Now, despite improved literacy, the crime rate has going up. According to a report, domestic violence is increasing alarmingly in the valley, while the studies have revealed that more than 40 percent of Kashmiri women are physically or mentally abused by her husbands or by in-laws. As per a survey on domestic violence in J&K in 2019-20 by National Family Health (NFH), around 11% of rural women between 18 and 49 years have witnessed domestic violence whereas in urban areas 6% women are its victims.
There are plenty of episodes. To mention few shocking ones, let me start with Anantnag incident which got viral on social media months before. A 32-year-old woman committed suicide at her in-laws’ home in Anantnag on April11, 2021. Following the incident, her family members allegedly set her in-law’s house on fire. In Aham Sharief, Bandipora, on October 7, 2020, a 31-year-old woman, Rehan Gulzar, an FMPHW (Female Multi-Purpose Health Worker) mothering three kids, got burn injuries at her in-laws’ home, and later succumbed to her wounds at hospital in Srinagar. On 20 September, 2020, day after a woman ended her life at her matrimonial home at Namithal village of Chadoora, Budgam, by consuming some poisonous substance, family members staged protest at Press Enclave, Srinagar, demanding stern action against her cruel in-laws for allegedly forcing their sweet daughter to take extreme step after facing ‘dowry harassment’. The point is that the situation is grave.
Till now, whenever suicides at in-laws came to fore, either the culprits were booked or FIRs were lodged against them. But all that never helped us. One episode leads to another with some days’ uproar around, and then the protesters’ rage cools down. By the way, form how many previous incidents, have we learnt lessons? None. We must stand up with these victims who need moral support before it is too late. NGOs like J&K Women’s Commission and Ahsaas must come forward to provide counseling and emergency helpline numbers to these victims to prevent them from doing any self harming acts. Police can play a big role. Women specificpolice stations can have details of the married girls, families of whom may be visited thrice a year and counseled by particular teams. When police can control drug addiction and restrain peddlers, why this menace can’t be curbed. The families of in-laws should be informed beforehand about the dire consequences of domestic violence, in case they harassed their daughters-in-law. Crimes like dowry, failing to give birth to a son, taunts, mental tortures, immolation, abetment, etc. must be openly taken up with them once marriage consmmates.
These women must be psychologically consoled and assured that they are not alone. Most of the times, victims don’t even have their family support. Families must be supportive enough because it’s primarily one’s family, a victim approaches in the first instance. But, what happens, here, usually, when an extreme step is taken by the sufferer. We find it our moral duty, after protests are held, to attend the victim’s funeral. These victims must be assisted at the right time so that tragedies are averted. We need to change our mindset towards these home makers who play a significant role in our society, add color to our lives and set existence going. Let’s jointly stop this evil of domestic violence against women.
Manzoor Akash teaches English, hails from Zone Dangiwacha, Rafiabad
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