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Surge in domestic violence against women in Kashmir

Suhail Bhat
Srinagar, Aug 25: Domestic violence against women has increased in Kashmir despite stringent laws, as scores of women are falling prey to the violence at the hands of in-laws every day.
Police records suggested that five women died in 2014, while the figure jumped to six in 2015.  The figures revealed that from 2014 to 2016, 312 women were forced to commit suicide. Police have booked 361 accused across Kashmir valley so far.
The police figures said that 3960 cases related to violence against women have been registered during last 7 years in Jammu and Kashmir in which 5150 accused were booked.
In Jammu district, 638 such cases have been reported followed by Srinagar city 387, Doda 335, Udhampur 148, Poonch 135, Baramulla 105, Anantnag 79, Kishtwar 76, Kupwara 64, Ramban 58, Samba 51, Reasi 45, Rajouri 40, Ganderbal 32, Budgam 31, Pulwama 31, Bandipora 24, Shopian 24, Kulgam 18, Kargil 4 and a solitary case of domestic violence against woman was reported from Leh district of Ladakh division of Jammu and Kashmir.
Women’s Police Station Rambagh receives 10 to 15 complaints of domestic violence every day. “There has been a steep increase in the cases related to violence against women, particularly from past few years. Incidents related to domestic violence or matrimonial disputes are on rise. We received 29 cases in 2016 while as in just seven months of 2017, the case list is already 23,” a senior police officer said.
“These days there is less acceptance and thus violence takes over. After their marriages, girls find the indifferent attitude of their in-laws which results in more problems and ultimately these cases land in the Police Station,” the police officer said.
The officer, however, claimed that the registered and filed complaints are not the only cases of domestic violence in Kashmir. A number of silent sufferers exist which makes it increasingly difficult to tackle the problem.
“We come to know about cases of domestic violence through surveys. This is because of the reluctance of the victims to file a case with police owing it to social stigma. Large numbers of victims do not want to register their complaints to avoid legal hassles and other cumbersome procedures,” she said.
Ruhi Jan, 26, alleged that she was subjected to domestic violence by her in-laws in Pampore area of Pulwama district. She said that shortly after marriage, her in-laws unleashed atrocities on her and threatened to kill her.
“On August 24, 2014, she was married to Arshad Ahmad Mir, a resident of Kadlabal Pampore. Right from the first week of the marriage, he began mistreating her. He would beat her and ask her to get money from her family so that he can start his business,” said Tahir Ahmad, victim’s brother.
He said the in-laws would beat her regularly but she never uttered a word and hoped that things might change. “That was her biggest mistake. She should have informed us in the beginning. She was tortured both physically and emotionally. She only told us when it was unbearable for her,” Tahir alleged.
He alleged last month, she was locked up in a solitary room and kerosene oil was sprinkled on her. “They had planned to burn her alive but she managed to run from her clutches and reached home,” Tahir said.
In addition to severe emotional and physical torture perpetrated on victims, domestic violence has also deteriorated the mental health conditions of many women in the Valley from last decade. “Today women in Kashmir constitute 55 per cent of the patients visiting Kashmir’s lone mental health hospital in Srinagar, with most suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD),” said, Dr. Mohammad Younis, a psychiatrist.
Dr Younis believed that in contemporary times women are more prone to PTSD than men. “There are thousands of women still hiding behind the doors of their houses, who because of the illiteracy and social taboos, continue to suffer silently”.
Nayeema Mehjoor, Chairperson of Women’s Commission said that the changing role of women in the society has resulted in violence against them. “Earlier our daughters were illiterate. Literacy and employment rates of women have now increased. They are coming out of their homes and have empowerment and education, but at the same time, it has also given rise to different sets of demands in the wedlock. Boys have started demanding more dowries from working women, resulting in violence against the womenfolk,” she said.
Nayeema also stressed the importance of the establishment of family courts to deal with and resolve chronic as well as fresh cases.

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