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Women and Children of Jammu and Kashmir

Living a deplorable life under the shadows of insecurity, helplessness
and trauma, the widows and orphans of the state have unending woes and
agonies at their disposal, heed to which can drive even a normal human
being insane.

Since they form the vulnerable group, it makes them the ultimate
sufferers in a conflict situation like Jammu and Kashmir. The group
being mostly dependent suffers the most.

If any thing happens in the society, particularly adverse, it affects
them badly. Say for example, if the head of the family (usually the
earning hand) dies, its immediate impact is, his wife becomes a widow
and the children orphans. Their plight starts right from here. Many
people come to mourn them, promise them many things but finally none
comes forward.

The entire burden has to be shared by the women and the children
themselves. Generally, such situation gives birth to two major
implications, as has been observed by the study, “Impact of conflict
situation on women and children (1999-2000)”, reveals Prof. Bashir
Ahmad Dabla, Head of the Department Sociology, University of Kashmir,
Srinagar.

The first implication, as per the study, is the increased women labour
force, that is, more women come out to work. They are exploited and
are paid minimum wages compared to their male counterparts. Other is
the educational setback faced by the children. They too get exploited
and there is increase in child labour, revealed the study.

Mostly, after the death of the husband, women shift to their parental
house. Even as per Islamic Shariah they can not maintain their claim
over their husband’s property. They have to go to their parental home
where they are welcomed initially but later their brother’s family
usually shows a sort of resentment and they have to opt for some
rental or separate accommodation. Very few of them stay at their
husband’s house and at their parental home, added the study.

The study further depicted the impact of the conflict in different
fields of life. Women face the problem of maltreatment and harassment,
drop out rate among children increases (it has gone up to 40 percent)
and health of women and children has shown deterioration.

“As per our study, both mental and physical problems among women have
increased. Neurological and heart related problems that were not so
common among women earlier are prevalent now. Even the crime rate
among the children can be partly attributed to the conflict situation.
In males, it has affected their attitude and behaviour”, said Prof.
Dabla.

The study further added that the affected children face many
psychological problems and abnormal traits in them can also be partly
attributed to the conflict situation. Behaviour and attitude of
children go out of control and there is an increase in
child-delinquency.

Relations within and outside the family get severed, added the study
further. Within the family it results in conflicts and outside the
family it affects the group or societal relations.

Crime rate among the children has shown a significant increase, as per
the study. “ When a child looses his/her family, school, parents and
face economic problems (s) he develops chronic diseases. Before twenty
years or so, there were less thefts and pick-pocketing cases in the
valley but now the number has increased. Crime among children can be
partly attributed to conflict, which is an additional factor, other
factors can be modernization and urbanization”, pointed Prof. Dabla.

Conflict has serious impact on the society as a whole. “Attitude
towards life changes, culture of intolerance creeps-in, divisions in
society are created, close relations within the family get suspended.
Moreover, conflicts result in no assessment, no accountability and no
control”, warned Prof. Dabla.

In conflict situation, differences are there and they can be easily
located. Firstly, normalcy goes out, attitude and behaviour of people
gets disturbed, valueless situation is created. Conflict situation
correlates with increase in violation and crime, use of drugs,
violation of values and norms.

The study further revealed that the affected women mostly belong to
educationally weaker section of the society and their social world is
small, so many of them do not resort to drugs etc. The cultural and
religion values that bind them is another main factor which keeps them
away from such immoral acts, added the study.

However, suicide rate among women has increased. The proportion of
females is more than males and it is more intense in the rural areas,
revealed the study, “Suicides in Kashmir (2000-01)”. All through out
the world the suicide rate among the males is more and it is more
intense in the urban areas but in the Kashmir valley reverse is true.

“As per our study, the rate of suicides in females is more than males
and it was found more prevalent in the rural areas. This too can be
partly attributed to the conflict situation”, commented Dr. Dabla.

Apparently, failure in the examination, unemployment or family problem
were the reasons quoted for the suicides committed but the underlying
factor is a kind of undesirable situation created by the conflict
situation, added the professor.

Impact of changing development, urbanization, education, modernization
are the causes that lead to the emergence of suicides and the conflict
situation adds to that maintained the study. The professor, however,
warned that if the same situation continues for the next fifty years
that might create many undesirable problems. Entire society will be
affected, be it education, culture, politics, religion or any other
dimension of life. “There will be no economic or education
development, quality of life will never be enhanced, underdevelopment
will prevail and every single individual will have to pay the price
and there will be dearth of good jobs”, pointed Dr. Dabla.

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