Dr Shagufta Ashraf has highlighted the dire conditions of Kashmiri women in IIOJK and has requested the UN’s women commission to focus on the women in Kashmir as they suffer abuse at the hands of the Indian military.
A Kashmiri scholar has drawn the attention of the UN Commission on the Status of women, which is holding its 65th session in New York, to the plight of Kashmiri women in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), saying they have suffered grave human rights abuses under the military occupation of the disputed state.
“Kashmiri women are the biggest victims of the ongoing conflict,” Dr Shagufta Ashraf, Head of the Department of Banking and Finance, University of Kotli, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, said in a petition to Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General of the UN-Women, the world body’s entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The status of women rights in conflicts over the past 73 years have resulted in the present “disturbing scenario” in IIOJK, Dr Ashraf said, adding that the situation worsened ever since the present government, which assumed power in New Delhi in 2014, systematically implemented a muscular policy to quell the rebellion by force.
On 5th August 20219, she pointed out India unilaterally ended the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and this scenario should be kept in mind when discussing women rights there.
“Women in Indian Administered Kashmir die in silence,” Dr Shagufta Ashraf said, referring, especially to “half widow’ — the women whose husbands have been subjected to enforced disappearances but have not been declared dead.
“These ‘half widows’ live in isolation with little or no social or financial support,” she said. “Most of the ‘half widows’ have not remarried due to the doubt about their husband’s fate and lack of consensus among Muslim scholars on this issue.”
In this regard, Dr Ashraf urged the U.N. to carry out a survey and help women in occupied Kashmir whose husbands have been killed or maimed. “The situation of widows and half widows should be an eye-opener that underscores the need to do more than merely observing the International Day for Widows.”
India has failed to protect the human rights of Kashmiri women, she said, adding that its rule from 1989 to 2020 had increased the pain among women and their families as their bread-earners were arrested and kept in different Indian jails.
“Enlightened opinion of the world must converge to resolve the conflict of Kashmir by redeeming the democratic rights of the people to choose their future as per United Nations Charter and United Nations resolutions,” Dr Ashraf said.