Image Credits: Danish Ismail/Reuters

Indian Brutalities: The Women of Kashmir

Women, the root of societal progress and prosperity, the cradle that uplifts humankind, have been under siege in the Indian-occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir for over 75 years.  Since India illegally and brutally seized control of the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, its draconian policies have aggravated significantly. Rape as a weapon of societal destruction is one of the most basic tools used by Indian forces to crush Kashmiris\’ resolve to fight back against their cruel invaders.

Indian Forces: Molesting Women

According to reports by a local news outlet, Kashmir Media Service, Indian forces have raped and molested over 11,000 women and killed 2,342 in the past three decades alone.

In addition to this, Indian war crimes have left more than 23,000 women widowed and left to fend for themselves and their families, adding to their misery. Over 100,000 women have developed mental health issues as a result of constant harassment by Indian troops as a result of the region’s never-ending Indian brutalities.

Masarat Alam Bhat, Chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, expressed similar outrage over these crimes against women in Kashmir earlier this year, stating that the “Indian military is using rape as a weapon of war to humiliate the Kashmiri people and break their resolve for freedom from India’s illegal occupation.” A report by the Kashmir Media Service also confirms this fact by stating that a survey conducted had disclosed that Indian forces in the occupied Kashmiri territory use women related to freedom fighters and political figures pushing against India’s inhumane agendas to deter them from pursuing their fight against the enforced Indian rule.

The history of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) is littered with heinous atrocities committed by Indian authorities in the region, with little to no effort ever made by any international entity to address or mediate the issue. “Over 100 women were gang raped by Indian troops at Kunanposhpora in Kupwara in February 1991, while two women, Aasiya and Neelofar, were abducted, raped, and subsequently killed by Indian men in uniform in Shopian in May 2009,” disclosed a Kashmir Media Service report. After 32 years of this crime against humanity, the victims and their families still await justice.

The Legal Cover

Section 5 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) states that “no prosecution, suit, or other legal proceeding shall be instituted against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act, except with the prior sanction of the Central Government.” Under this section, Army officials are offered a form of immunity where military personnel cannot be prosecuted unless there is a prior sanction for investigation by the central government.

Under the guise of such laws, Indian forces in Kashmir enjoy full protection from the Indian government, which has rarely ever sanctioned any such investigation against its own troops.

The Research Society of International Law dissects another malicious Indian policy in IIOJK, elaborating that the Public Safety Act (PSA) of 1978 enables the government the right to detain Kashmiris without trial for two years. It provides security officials complete discretion when it comes to detaining someone, which might happen only for attempting to prevent sexual assault or reporting such instances. A person who is detained pursuant to the PSA is not entitled to lodge a bail application with a criminal court and is not entitled to a lawyer to appear on their behalf before the detaining authority. By doing this, PSA makes sure that sexual assault victims are denied access to the legal process. As a result of the Indian government\’s failure to properly prosecute and punish security personnel for their criminal conduct, a system of impunity where security forces evade accountability develops.

Image Credits: Mukhtar Khan/AP

Despite the constant violations and various forms of physical and psychological abuse the women of Indian-occupied Kashmir have suffered, their pursuit for justice on international and regional forums and unwavering fight against Indian atrocities is a testament to Kashmir’s unyielding resolve against its illegal invaders. As Pakistan continues to share Kashmir’s trauma, the responsibility of providing justice to these women lies mainly with the international community, which has developed such comprehensive norms to ensure human rights protection in better parts of the world but has remained quiet over India’s darkest war crimes in IIOJK.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of the South Asia Times.

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