Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!

India: a culture of Rape, a legacy of Rape

India: a culture of Rape, a legacy of Rape
If the ‘culture of Rape’ is argued to be conventional as the discussions on sexual violence followed after a brutal case of gang rape in New Delhi, the masses are seemingly questioning the wide spread acceptance of ‘sexual violence’ as a civilian culture enabling people to pull the skeletal from the closet. The young Delhi girl raped pitilessly by six drunken men on a private bus, resulting into her death has enraged the young people in the city. People are driven to the extreme, laying emphasis on ‘freedom’ for women and exposing the hard realities of this ‘culture’ that constitute of established behaviors clubbed with prejudiced patriarchy. According the statistics provide by National Crimes Records Bureau data the incidents of rape in India have risen by a staggering 729% over the period of last forty years. This hype in the figures is indicative of the justification of sexual violence as a norm. From media to embedded patriarchy, all account for this ‘culture of rape’. While the Indian ‘Nation’ was awakening to this hard hitting reality, the people in disputed Kashmir were asking different questions.
In Kashmir; a conflict ridden territory between India and Pakistan, divided up into three parts, in a part controlled by India, sexual violence has proven to be of both cultural and political use. In tactics of war were it has served as a ‘punishment’ for entire community by involving methods of collective shaming and by demeaning the cultural ethos of the revolting community . This recent incident in Delhi has now engaged the people in Kashmir in raising fundamental questions about the women, “Whether sexual violence perpetrated on women by Indian paramilitary forces accounts for rape as a ‘weapon of war’ and also then-by default an extension of this ‘culture of rape’ that is debated in the capital city? Furthermore, the question raised is whether these are conveniently operating under the protection of ‘uniform’ and enjoying the impunity under various special laws like AFSPA (Armed Forces Special powers Act) ?
The process of militarism in Kashmir has furthered its grip in a more sophisticated fashion in last twenty years ever since the inception of armed struggle by Kashmiri people in 1989 demanding ‘Freedom’ from Indian Rule. The widespread presence of Indian army in civilian areas has always been matter of contestation. Although, the incidence of sexual violence against women of Kashmir is not a problem necessitated by the problem of insurgency, recording the history of Kashmir’s political struggle, Mohamad Yusuf Saraf in his book, “Kashmiris fight for Freedom”, and comments on the inception of this military culture that took its roots hen Indian Military first moved to Kashmir:
“Every Town in the Valley has large number of Indian soldiers to overawe the population. Free movement was extremely difficult not only for Muslim women but also women of the minority Pandit community. In November 1947 many women were raped by Indian soldiers including the women political activists”
The history of this process of Militarism that unfolds in Kashmir is a masculine gendered pattern and is marked by consistent subjugation of women ever since the year 1953, when the Indian army was first flown to Kashmir. Several incidents of sexual violence in history are indicative of this practice .
However, in recent years the process has only increased since the excuse has been to fight the popular armed resistance and safeguarding the ‘honour’ of the Indian nation. A study done by Medicines Sans Frontiers a French organization working on mental health in 2006 revealed, the Kashmiri women suffer sexual violence on a large scale. It further mentions that since the beginning of the armed struggle in 1989 sexual violence has been routinely perpetrated on Kashmiri women, with 11.6% of the respondents saying that they suffered sexual abuse. The rampant militarism which engulfs the Kashmir valley has been accused of perpetrating sexual violence on Kashmiri women with impunity. Various Human rights organizations have tried to bring attention to the endemic impunity that the military forces enjoy while perpetrating sexual violence. In various remote villages of Kashmir, sexual violence seldom attracts attention, in case of Kunan-poshpora a mass rape perpetrated in 1991, which is now making its way into media attention and cases that do for example manage to get attention, people allege government of cover up.
In last twenty years Human rights organizations like Asia Watch and Amnesty International have published various reports indicating the incidence of sexual violence by the Indian army and its increase over the years. Many such reports have indicated that rape as a ‘weapon of war’ being tolerated if not condoned by the state.
“In May 1990 a young bride, Mubina Gani, was detained and raped by Border Security Forces (BSF) soldiers while she was traveling from the wedding to her husband's home. Her aunt was also raped. The security forces had also fired on the party, killing one man and wounding several others. The government claimed that the party had been caught in "cross-fire." After the incident was publicized in the local and international press, Indian authorities ordered the police to conduct an inquiry. Although the inquiry concluded that the women had been raped, the security forces were never prosecuted” --- Rape in Kashmir, a crime of War; the Asia Watch Report

The recent movement against sexual violence in India has focused on forming tougher Laws to deal with the issue, while in Kashmir’s case; laws are either never used or completely employed against the survivors. Government officials unfailingly attempt to dismiss the testimony of the women by accusing them of being militant sympathizers. About the implication of Indian soldiers Asia Watch Report comments:

“The prosecution of two soldiers for the rape of a Canadian tourist in October 1990 is the only case of criminal prosecution which the Indian government has made public. The soldiers were sentenced to prison terms, but as of April 1993, the soldiers remained in barracks and the case was on appeal”

The argument that is often employed to push the deeds of Indian forces in Kashmir under a dormant cover are by comparing it with the rapes committed by the armed militants over the years. Several women’s right Many Human rights reports have often concluded that in comparison to the Indian army the violence perpetrated by the militants against the woman is far less. Indian government claims the level of insurgency has considerably lowered over past five years. However people claim incidents of sexual violence have hardly come to a halt. The Kashmiri people have employed non-violent method of protest in recent years and year 2009 is marked with the ‘protest against sexual violence’ and murder of two girls, Asiya and Nelofer in Shopian by the Indian army personals. Yet again the case met with burdensome process of enquiry ending the matter where it always ends, “no justice delivered”. Further, the prosecution process even if it kick starts in few cases, often is hurdled by the attacks on even medical care providers, who testify sexual violence has been committed on the victim. In many cases the care providers are forced to retract statements says Asia Watch report.
In the wake of the recent emphasis and caution over sexual violence committed in civilian spheres many Kashmiris went online expressing their concern over the indifference towards Kashmiri women by Indian Army and by Indian government by following the policy of inaction. The Indian civil society is now casually engaging in tagging along the issues of Kashmiri women as a variant motif in the dominant meta-narrative of Indian civil society. However, the problems of Kashmiri women are in part and whole embedded in the rampant militarism. The culture of Militarism; a culture of rape that has a ‘gun’ and a ‘phallus’ tucked in on a female body of Kashmir, defending the ‘Women, Nation and honour’ of its own.

Inshah Malik is a PhD scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She also wrote her Mphil Thesis on “Impact of On-going conflict on Muslim women in Kashmir” submitted in TISS. She has continuously written on issues of Gender, Militarism and People’s movement. She is currently writing her PhD thesis on “Women’s agency in Kashmir’s freedom protests

.

Comments

JaniceW's picture

What can we do?

The persecution of peaceful protesters and the senseless rape of the women must stop. The world needs to hear of the uncertain future and constant fear the Kashmiri people face on a daily basis.

Thank you for sharing this injustice with us and helping us to understand the plight of the Kashmiri people. Let us know what we can do, whether it is writing to our own government officials, sharing your story, or a more direct action. Use your journal to mobilize this community and bring all of our voices together for a united front of empowerment for the Kashmiris. It is in organizing actions and spreading word of them through our networks that we have the greatest chance for change.

I also encourage you to apply for the World Pulse Voices of Our Future Program. Not only will you gain skills as a citizen journalist but more importantly, the program will connect you with other women around the world demanding justice for women and girls.

I hope you will consider applying (see link below). The world needs to hear your voice.

http://worldpulse.com/pulsewire/programs/world-pulse-voices-of-our-future

inshahkashmiri's picture

Steps for Future

Personally, What I see amiss in Kashmir struggle is that it lacks an international creative campaign to create awareness about the situation. Unfortunately, we are so cut out from the world that to allow our indigenous voice, it gets hijacked by filters that we have to pass.

At this moment, a solid campaign is what we need. Thanks so much for your engagement and i will surely look up the programme

Inshah

JaniceW's picture

One step is to start a petition

You can start your own petition for change on the website, change.org. It has a huge audience around the world in spite being a US organization. If you create a petition, post it in your journal and invite others to sign it and spread the word through their networks. Below is the link if you are interested:

http://www.change.org/start-a-petition

I would also let all of the Kashmiri members know about it so that they can spread the word through their social networks. To reach out to them privately, simply go to their Profile page and click on the envelope icon that reads "Send a message" next to their profile photo.

inshahkashmiri's picture

Brilliant Idea

Janice, that sure is a brilliant idea, do u propose to take up the national liberation question itself, I would need little help in that case, since i am in India and security is an issue for me. I could prepare the campaign and you could spearhead it with women who are in better locations then me, of course, i would be a part of it too

Inshah

JaniceW's picture

Let's connect with the others

I posted something in the Hope for Kashmir group to kick off the conversation.

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Letters to a Better World

Letters to a Better World

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

womenspace's picture

CAMBODIA: Ordinary Women Can Make a Difference

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative