Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir – A Festering Wound for Women and Children

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  • Post author:Omay Aimen
  • Post category:Biosphere

INTERNATIONAL concerns have been raised about Human Rights Violations (HRVs) in the Indian Illegally Occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) for many years. The protracted conflict in the area has had a significant impact on a number of population groups, especially women and children.

The conflict in Kashmir dates back to the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. Since that time, the region has seen a turbulent history characterised by territorial conflicts and political upheaval. Human rights organisations have published various reports over the years detailing HRVs, such as extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, sexual violence, and limitations on freedom of expression and movement.

The conflict and the associated HRVs have had a disproportionately negative impact on women in IIOJ&K. Their physical, psychological, and socioeconomic well-being has suffered significantly as a result of the prevalence of violence. Sexual assaults, such as rape, molestation, and harassment, have been perpetually documented. According to latest figures released by Kashmir Media Service, 22960 women have been widowed, 107903 children orphaned while 11258 women have been raped or molested since January 1989. These include Kununposhpora mass rape victims and Shopian double rape and murder, including children. These crimes not only traumatise the victims, but they also help to maintain a society that is silent and afraid.

Their access to necessary services such as healthcare, education, career prospects, and others is hampered by these constraints due to perpetual curfews. Additionally, the fact that many women are now the sole breadwinners in their households after losing male family members due to conflict-related incidents has increased their susceptibility in the job market.

Children Bear the Brunt

Children’s access to high-quality education is hampered by the protracted closure of educational facilities owing to unrest and curfews, depriving them of a crucial foundation for their future. Children who experience school disruptions are also more likely to be exploited, enlisted by armed groups, or radicalised. A person’s capacity to lead a fulfilling life may be hampered by the long-term mental and behavioural problems caused by watching or experiencing violence. These violations include the continued killing and maiming of children, sexual violence and abduction, attacks against schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access. Such inhuman actions are not only in violation of the UNSC resolutions on Children and Armed Conflict but are also in breach of the best interests of the child principle under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a state party.

Challenges Faced by Women and Children

The HRVs in IIOJ&K have created a range of challenges for women and children in the region. The difficulty in obtaining justice and holding those responsible for acts of violence accountable is one of the main issues. The cycle of violence is continued when HRVs go unpunished, and trust in the organisations in charge of defending human rights is also diminished. The recovery and rehabilitation of survivors are made more difficult by the lack of appropriate reparation measures.

Another challenge is the limited availability of support services for victims. The existing infrastructure for psychological counselling, trauma centres, and rehabilitation programs is inadequate to address the scale and complexity of the needs arising from the conflict. The stigmatisation of survivors makes it even harder for them to get help and support.

A concerted effort involving International HR organizations is needed to address the effect of HRVs on women and children in IIOJ&K.

A fair, free and internationally supervised plebiscite that should be aimed to secure the right of self-determination for the people of Kashmir. Pakistan is in the favour of the UN plebiscite as per the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

The UN Security Council must act immediately to stop India from such practices and take preventive measures to protect children, including by ending the use of pellets against children in IIOJ&K. Whatever the causes of modern-day brutality towards children, the time has come to call a halt. These acts must end, and perpetrators must be held to account.

Urgently repeal the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (1990) and Amend the Anti-Terrorism Act to bring it in line with international human rights standards.

Investigate and prosecute all cases of sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by state and non-state actors, and provide reparations to victims.

Remove cases of sexual violence from military jurisdiction.

Institute an effective monitoring mechanism that oversees the implementation of laws dealing with violence against women and children in Kashmir.

Monitor and support Kashmir’s provisions for appropriate support services, including psychological counselling, legal aid, emergency medical care, and reproductive and sexual health services responsive to the effects of violence.

As the conflict in Kashmir continues, little has been done by central authorities to change their methods of counter-insurgency operations to prevent violations of human rights. India’s ratification of IHL and IHRL is unlikely to bring about substantial changes unless there is a collective effort and collaboration between locals, the government of Jammu and Kashmir, the federal government of India, and the international community to provide the women and children of Kashmir the justice they deserve.

—Written by Omay Aimen denovas312@gmail.com

Courtesy by Omay Aimen – Pakistan Observer

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Omay Aimen is a researcher, with an interest in national security, international politics, hybrid warfare & geopolitics. She can be reached at manahil.jaffer786@gmail.com

Omay Aimen

Omay Aimen is a researcher, with an interest in national security, international politics, hybrid warfare & geopolitics. She can be reached at manahil.jaffer786@gmail.com

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