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No country for women

Last month, Kashmir slipped into a shock after a mother of two was set ablaze by her in-laws at Akura village in Anantnag district.

The 28-year-old woman suffered 90 percent burns and was admitted to SHMS hospital. After struggling for a week, she succumbed on April 1.  In her dying declaration, she accused her husband and in-laws of setting her ablaze. A video of the victim later went viral in the valley. 

Married for over 12 years, she was the mother of two small kids.  Her family said she was a victim of domestic violence. Her in-laws would often say that the victim was not mentally fit. 

A few days later, another domestic abuse victim ended her life in Anantnag. Her family members went on a rampage and torched the house of her in-laws. Police later filed two FIRs—one against her husband for abetment to suicide and domestic violence, and the other against her brother for arson.

The two cases are just the tip of the iceberg in Kashmir. Once known as `pirwaer’, Kashmir is fast losing its social morals. Wife-beating, domestic abuse, rape, molestation, abduction, and eve-teasing have become rampant. Crime against women is increasing by the day and society is failing to check its black sheep.

National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) 2020 report has exposed law enforcing agencies for slow progress in investigations into the crimes against women in Jammu and Kashmir

 Jammu and Kashmir witnessed as many as 3069 cases of crime against women including rapes, molestation, and domestic violence in 2019. Of which 1589 are pending investigation.

 Data revealed that investigation into 1732 cases of crime against women has been pending since 2018.  

 Interestingly, 12518 cases of crime against women have been pending in courts of the newly declared union territory.  Different courts completed the trial in 1353 cases in 2019.

 NCRB figures revealed that 70 persons have been convicted of crimes against women, while 17 were discharged and 2506 acquitted.

 Figures revealed that 223 incidents of rape have been recorded in the union territory in 2019.  212 victims are above 18 years old. Data revealed that there have been 13 attempts of rape in 2019.

 There have been 1440 cases of assault on women with intent to outrage their modesty in J&K.  There have been 348 cases of cruelty by husband in 2019. NCRB data revealed 381 women were kidnapped for forcible marriage. 369 victims have been in the age group of the forties and 368 in the late thirties.

The crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir police also recorded eight dowry-related deaths in the union territory. Women in J&K have also faced cyberbullying, stalking, and blackmailing in 2019.

 NCRB data revealed that six cyber-crimes against women including publishing or transmitting sexually explicit material were recorded by the crime branch in 2018.   Three cases relate to blackmailing, defamation, morphing, and fake profiles on social media.

In fact, the crime against women is increasing by seven percent across the country. According to NCRB 2020 report, 87 rape cases were registered daily in the country in 2019. Around 4,05,861 cases of crime against women were registered in 2019. In 2018, the number was 3,78,236 cases.

Women’s rights activists blame poor implementation of laws to tackle the crime against women. Shoddy investigation and flawed prosecution often help the culprits to escape the law. Most of the cases fall apart during the trial which helps the accused to get bail and often ends up in acquittal.

Sensing flaws, Andhra Pradesh became the first state in the country to pass Disha Bill in 2019. Under Disha law, special police stations were set up to curb crime against women. Under the act, a rape accused, if convicted, will be awarded capital punishment. 

According to Disha Act, the entire investigation has to be completed within seven days and trial within 14 days. On Women’s day, the AP government set up 2000 stands with QR codes for easy download of the Disha app.

Jammu and Kashmir too needs such special laws so that the criminals are brought to book. Though police have started setting up women help desks in different police stations, there is a need to emulate the Andhra model to deal with the cases. Speedy trial and fast justice are key to keep criminals at bay. We need special women teams like Telangana to deal with crimes against women.

`She teams’ as they are called should be replicated in Jammu and Kashmir. This will give a sense of security to the women of Jammu and Kashmir. Social stigma is playing a huge part in discouraging women to go to police stations.

Society and religious leaders need to wake up to this menace and sensitize the community so that black sheep are identified and handed over to law enforcing agencies. Imams, community leaders, and social influencers have to shun their blinkers and come to the rescue of women.

No society progresses if women are suppressed. Education only cannot empower women. Society needs to treat women on par with men. Sadly, our society still is living in the past. Our girls are still being asked not to venture into male-dominated fields. Our daughters and sisters are capable of excelling in any field. Parents and society only need to encourage them. We need to encourage our daughters to receive self-defence training so that they can meet any challenge whether at school, college, or the workplace. Our girls are our pride.

(Views expressed are author’s own. Feedback at [email protected])

Eroded roads