This is a powerful statement by Khurram Parvez, a human rights defender in Kashmir, about Kashmiri Women’s Struggle for Truth & Justice. It was written as a press release on March 8th, International Women’s Day.
What’s remarkable about it is that it shows the leading role played by women in that struggle against occupation, just as women were leading activists in the Arab uprisings. Kashmir is also a predominantly Muslim society so these women put the lie to Islamophobic hysteria which is again crescendoing after the bombings in Brussels & Lahore.
It acknowledges that “women have suffered both at the hands of the militarized occupation & the patriarchal society” & that makes their role all the more inspiring & instructive.
Kashmiri Women’s Struggle for Truth and Justice
Press Statement: 8th March 2016
In Jammu and Kashmir, women have suffered both at the hands of the militarized occupation and the patriarchal society. Last 26 years of brutal military response against the freedom struggle in Jammu and Kashmir has increased the sufferings of the women. More than 70,000 people, mostly men have been killed, around 8,000 people subjected to enforced disappearances, thousands of women raped and molested. There are more than 1500 wives waiting for their disappeared husbands, who are referred to as Half Widows due to the legal uncertainty in their lives.
Kashmiri women have dominated the struggle for justice in these cases of killings, disappearances and rapes. It is the women who have always been the first to protest on streets, file cases in the courts, campaign for justice and also sustain the memory of the sufferings.
Whether the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of the killed and the disappeared or the women who were raped or molested, the women in Jammu and Kashmir have shown exemplary courage in fighting against the injustice. Despite the institutionalized denial of justice, the women continue their unrelenting campaign to know the truth about their disappeared loved ones and the justice for those who have been killed or wronged by the State forces.
Today entire world is commemorating International Women’s Day. In Jammu and Kashmir, there are many government and non-governmental programs organized for commemorating this day. This day is basically about celebrating the struggle of women for justice and empowerment. Yet, most of these government sponsored or patronized programs, refuse to talk about this struggle of women in Jammu and Kashmir. In a de-contextualized manner these commemorations of women’s day only strengthen the policy of obfuscation by the government. There can be no empowerment of women in Jammu and Kashmir, without acknowledging the sufferings and the struggle of those who are at the forefront of this struggle from the streets to the courtrooms in Jammu and Kashmir.
Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) has most of its members either mothers or the wives of the disappeared, who have kept the struggle against enforced disappearances alive in Jammu and Kashmir. APDP salutes all those women of Jammu and Kashmir who have struggled for justice despite being victimized. It is their resilience, which is the bedrock of the struggle for justice and empowerment for the women of Jammu and Kashmir. The empowerment of women in Kashmir cannot happen without creating conductions for justice.
On this day let us also pledge to work against patriarchy and hence reduce the vulnerability of our women and give no opportunity to the Indian state to use patriarchy as a tool of repression against Kashmiris. Let us pledge to stand by the women who have sacrificed for resistance and suffer at the hands of the society.
Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons