Women’s bodies as battlegrounds: Social media discourse and the weaponization of rape in Kashmir

Tweets are not just empty words, but a reflection of the violence continuum that Kashmiri women are subjugated to.

Following any major event in Kashmir, the chasm of social media serves as a preliminary gauge of public opinion surrounding the event. The revocation of Article 370 by India’s BJP-led government was no different. The revocation put an end to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, which had allowed the territory to create some of its own laws, and maintain a certain level of sovereignty. Now, Kashmir will have to abide by the Indian constitution after years of having its own. Many Kashmiris believe that the move is an effort to change the Muslim majority demographics of the region, by allowing non-Kashmiris to buy land in Kashmir, among other scrutinized measures.

After the constitutional change was passed, Twitter users identifying as Indian men took to the platform to celebrate how the constitutional provision might be to their perceived benefit.

“Congrats India, now unmarried boys can marry these smart girls from Kashmir after 370 removal”

Another tweet read, “Every Indian boy’s dream right now: 1. Plot in Kashmir 2. Job in Kashmir 3. Marriage with Kashmiri girl.”

In line with the sentiments of the tweets, Google Trends data shows searches in India for “Kashmiri girl” surged on August 5, when the Indian government passed the revocation. This type of fetishization of Kashmiri women is not new. But how can the same men who aspire to marry Kashmiri women, simultaneously support their violent oppression? The answer is: with ease. Women’s bodies have been battlegrounds in Kashmir since the states of India and Pakistan came into existence, after a violent partition in 1947. Since then, India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir. In parallel, Kashmir was wracked by an anti-India insurgency movement starting in 1989, which led to mass casualties and disappearances of Kashmiris.


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