Srinagar Sep 09: She is 53-years old now, but she lost the golden years of her youth on a cold night on February 23, 1991, when the Indian army allegedly raped around 50 women of the Kunan-Poshpora village. The incident is one of the major acts of sexual violence carried out by any army in the world. In the disguise of a search operation, the army took out all the men from their homes leaving behind the women folk of the village who were then abused and raped all night.
Nora Begum*, one of the rape survivors, recalls the events of that unfortunate day. These twenty two years might have been enough to cure her physical injuries but the wounds on her soul are still fresh and painful. “Three army men came inside the house and closed the door. They then tore apart my clothes and switched off the lights. They hurled abuses on me and after that, whatever happened to me, I hope nothing like that ever happens to any women in the world. It’s better to die than to experience something like that”.Nora was not able to recognize her family members for the next two days. She was in a state of intense trauma and her physical condition was no worse. The night long thrashing and rape had made her inert. “I was lying on floor trampled and I could not feel anything at that moment, I had become immobile. If my husband would not have been there to support me after the terrifying incident I would have died long ago.”
Nora’s husband is a local labourer earning a meager income. Together with all the other men of the village he too was taken out of his home along with his eight-year-old son. They were forced to stand outside in the freezing temperatures and were beaten ruthlessly. In the morning, the army let them go home and all the men rushed to their families. Many men tend to become indifferent to their women after such incidents but Nora’s husband stood by her like a pillar and supported her all through. She gives all the credit of her recovery to her husband.
Soon after the incident Nora began to show signs of serious illness. She was diagnosed with uterine infection for which she underwent an operation just a couple of years ago. She has been under treatment from the past two decades and being poor her husband is hardly able to meets the both ends. The prolonged treatment and medication has taken a toll on her physical condition. She is not able to do any household chores and remains seated at one place. Nora’s son and husband take care of the house. Besides taking care of her, they also do all the household chores like cooking and cleaning.
Seeing the caring approach of her husband, Nora is slowly getting back the confidence she had lost after the tragic incident. Her two decade long journey for justice continues even as she continues to fight back and wants a strict punishment for the culprits.
“I will fight back untill my last breath”, she says firmly.
Author: Isra Bhat
Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan
Isra Bhat is a research scholar at the University of Kashmir in Srinagar. She has been awarded a two-month long fellowship by the Friedrich Ebert foundation (FES) in Germany and is currently in DW, Bonn. You can get in touch with Isra at firstname.lastname@example.org.