(Written by Rakib Chatt)
Srinagar:Raja Begum has been upbringing her three children after her husband was killed 20 years back allegedly by Army.
Though Begum lives from hand to mouth, she ensures her two daughters and a son get quality education.
However, during the past four months, she is failing to make ends meet.
“For the past four months, I have not earned a penny and now am running in debt,” she says breaking in tears. “My life changed forever after my husband was killed by Army men and since then I have been managing all the living costs of my family.”
Begum is not alone in this fate, her fate shared by thousands of other Kashmiri women.
According to the State Women’s Commission, conflict in Kashmir has rendered 40,000 women widowed.
During the past four months of the ongoing uprising, women have been the worst-hit with a number of mental diseases developing among the women.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, Dr. Asiya Niyaz, a clinical psychologist working at SMHS hospital said, “Uncertainty is prevailing in the environment which leads to mental illness.”
She said Genial Anxiety Disorder was so common that it was not even considered a mental illness in Kashmir.
“Night raids have added to the mental problems of women as they are more fearful of atrocities and are not able to cope up to brutalities,” Dr. Asiya said. “Among women, the common diseases found are obesity and hypertension.”
A woman, who did not wish to be named, said she feels uncomfortable when men in uniform constantly stare at her.
A senior doctor of LD hospital, who is not authorized to talk to media, said, “Since the psyche of women is disturbed, a lot of miscarriages occurred during the past three months.”
She said she had never witnessed so many miscarriages during her 23-year career and expressed concern that high-levels of stress would impact fetuses.
“Every child is affected and these new-born would have symptoms in the future,” she said.
The doctor said delay in reaching hospitals also resulted in causing severe health issues to the mother as well as child.
Chairperson of State Women’s Commission, Nayeema Mehjoor told Rising Kashmir that women had been is directly hit as it was their sons who had died to pellets and bullets and it was their sons who had been arrested by the government forces.
She also during the past three months the commission had received many cases from women, especially those who are the sole bread earners of their families.
“These women had sought help,” Mehjoor said. “Besides, the commission also received cases regarding domestic abuses.”
Giving example of a five-member family that earns its living from Ari work and Krewal embroidery, she said, “A mother of four girls came to us and told us that they are unable to earn.”
Stating that they could not do anything for them, Mehjoor said no one in Kashmir cared for women.
“During the 2016 uprising, at some places, even sanitary napkins were not available in market,” she said.
Syed Qurat Masoodi, a social activist said women who are the sole bread earners of their families and were unable to earn, would develop suicidal tendencies or do something that is not morally acceptable.
“A mother is more attached to children and can’t see them suffer and will get depressed,” she said.
Masoodi said she wanted to know what alternative model was in place that would take care of the basic requirements of widowed women who were unable to earn during the past four months.
Iffat Naseem, an economist said, “Women are vital to broad-based development process not just due to their direct income generating or income-spending behavior but their contribution too has a positive impact on social variables like fertility rate, literacy, infant mortality and life expectancy, thereby creating greater externalities and, if suppressed women will generate more detrimental externalities.”
A women entrepreneur, who does not want be named, said women did not have representation in policymaking and nobody cared for them while conflict too gave rise to various kinds of evils.
1.4 LAKH WIDOWS REGISTERED WITH GOVT
According to the official data of the Social Welfare Department, a total of 1,39,589 widows were registered with the government who were benefitting from the department’s two schemes – Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGWPS) and Women in Distress (WID).
A total of 90,589 widowed women are benefitting from WID whereas 49,000 are benefitting from IGWPS.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, sociologist Dr. Shabnam Ara said women had to live with handicaps created by violence.
“Women have to bear trauma and social stigma resulting from sexual abuse, shoulder responsibilities of bringing up children as a single parent after getting widowed at young age,” she said. “They also become victims of domestic violence, deprivation of opportunities of education and health due to highly masculine environment, imposition of patriarchal notions and values, which are an essential element of violence or violation of human rights.”
Dr. Shabnam said at the same time women were being denied participation in decision-making by both parties to violence.
Publish Date: 3-11-16 12:18 PM
(Written by Rakib Chatt)