Kathua rape, murder has shocked women in Kashmir

Srinagar, Jan 24: The rape and murder of 8-year-old child, Asifa from Hiranagar tehsil in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district has raised many question about the safety of girl child in the state.

The minor belonging to the Bakerwal or Gujjar community was abducted on January 10 and after eight days on January 17 her body was left deep inside bushes located over a kilometre from her home near a police station.

The Kashmir Monitor talked to many Kashmiri women from different fields who showed a concern about the women and girl child safety in the Jammu and Kashmir state.

Essar Batool, Social activist from Kashmir said that over the year’s sexual violence of women and girl child in the state is a serious concern. “We cannot say it is increasing but it is becoming a serious concern now. Women in Jammu and Kashmir need to come on the front to fight sexual violence especially girl child abuse.”

She said the recent incident in Kathua could be a conspiracy or the culprit could be from another community that is why police is protecting his identity.

She said there should be a proper investigation of the incident and whosoever the culprit would be, he should be punished.

“It is very sad to see how the state government is handling the incident. Why did they need to arrest the lawyer who was fighting for the minor’s justice?” she asked, adding that it probably points towards a larger problems which are better known to the government.

Parveena Ahangar, Founder and Chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons(APDP), said, “Human rights violation scenario in Kashmir is horrific. There is not a single day that passes without the news of killings. Even our children are targeted here. We still remember Asiya and Neelofar, Qunan Poshpora and now this Kathua incident.”

She said the parents of the minor girl needs to be heard properly. “This matter needs to be investigated without any bias. We cannot afford to tolerate the brutal killings of our minors. This has to be stopped”

 Dr Gazalla Noor Amin, Secretary General, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industries said that there should be a change in the mind-set of the people across the state.

“ A lot of women issues  are related to cultural differences also. It is not only about the women. It is about the attitude of the society towards the marginalised people. Lower castes and other religious minorities are being targeted everywhere and are unsafe,” she said.

She said there are so many incidents in which the minors are being raped within the family. “ It is the responsibility of the parents to encourage their girl child’s to speak up against the sexual abuse.”

 A women journalist, Insha Latief, working with the Rising Kashmir said that it is shocking to add minors in the list of sexual violence victims.

She said that it is sad that nobody in Kashmir is protesting against the Kathua incident in which minor girl child was mercilessly raped and killed. “It is very shameful act and needs to be condemned. Such cases needs a proper and investigate reportage,” adding that I don’t understand why media here is silent over it.

However, Taufiq Rashid, Senior female Journalist, said the Jammu and Kashmir is safe for women. There are no more sexual violence cases in the state compared to other states of the country.  “The recent Kathua incident was very unfortunate and needs to be investigated.”

Tauseef Rasheed, a working women in Kashmir said that the Kathua incident gives her a goose bombs.

“Tomorrow I will have my own kids and I am worried about their safety. Jammu and Kashmir has become unsafe for the women. It hurts,”  she said.

 Meanwhile, Nayeema Ahmad Mehjoor, Chairperson Jammu and Kashmir State Commission, said, “We were the first to reach the minor’s home in Kathua. We have taken up the matter with the authorities. We will not let any stone unturned unless the justice is prevailed.”

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