Our society claims to be developing at a rapid pace but is still patriarchal in attitude and sometimes misogynic in nature. Women are not given the space to express or present their opinions like men are, confining their roles to the chores of the house. Celebrations of events like International Women’s Day with few exceptional cases being evangelized as success stories, distorts the reality of discrimination and control over women.
Women are considered to be the second gender, giving the precedence to men as provider for the family and responsible member of the society, further alienating the women from the roles they should play in building a society. The societal norms and principles are still set by the men, restricting women to activities that men deem them to be capable of, the rules are set “Scooties are meant for girls, and the bikes for boys”, girls cannot go out late, and most of the religion just applies to girls.
The aggravating state of women, can be partially blamed on them as the list of compromises they make is endless. The helpless situation of women can be felt from the fact that female literacy is at 57% while male literacy rate in Kashmir is about 75% which speaks volumes about the treatment of girls compared to that of boys. The male dominated society has long repressed the women and kept them away from education and a better for the “Male Pride” that’s highly based on the sexuality not the personality.
Women have been challenged and continue to struggle to establish themselves as equals in the society, cultural responsibilities have subdued them while men have evolved and exercise total control. The obligations on women to act according the gospel of men has erased their identity and representation as a key stakeholder in the society. Our economy is the weakest because more than half of our women are home makers, elsewhere women are “Nation Builders”.
“Another day in the long list of days which we celebrate every year, nothing has changed! The patriarchal mindsets are still there. A bold woman having many male friends is still seen as a wh*re! Travelling alone is again an unthinkable idea. Where are women’s rights? Just hollow talks and much ado about nothing”, says Hirra Azmat.
Most cases of women harassment or domestic violence go unreported either due to the social stigma attached to such exploitation. “Most of the cases are related to domestic abuse, eve teasing and harassment. “Last year, we recorded 1359 cases of domestic abuse and 2 cases of rape”, said Inspector Anita Katal, heading the women’s police station in Jammu.
Last year in May, the women’s police station in Anantnag district of the valley was founded to encourage women to report crimes. “Almost 100 cases have been registered with us, of which most of the cases are regarding domestic abuse, with one rape case and another case of cybercrime”, said Station Head Poshmala Akhtar. “Four FIR’s have been launched with most of the domestic cases being resolved at the station”, she adds.
On the International Women’s Day, women spend this day celebrating their freedom and achievements as an equal member of the society, though the world is still very challenging for the female gender.
“Women are not coming forward with their complaints. How long will they be silent and suffer like this. It pains me to see them suffer and not get up against the abuse and harassment. There is social stigma about going to a police station. It is high time for this to change”, says DySP Nighat Aman, Kashmir Police.
“If women come and register their complaint at the police station, action will be taken and the culprits will be punished by the law. Parents need to play an active role by standing up for their girls, empower them with education, consider them equal and capable of doing anything”, she further adds.
“I don’t feel like celebrating. I have been looking for a job for months now and am highly stressed as most of the times I get rejected because of my gender. I wanted to go out and build my career but my parents won’t allow. It is not that they don’t trust me but the relatives and the society will not spare them for giving me that much freedom”, says Humaira Farooq, an iOS Developer.
“On other days around the year, women are harassed and disrespected and only on this day we are equal to men which is hypocritical! Islam has given women equal rights. Any sort of injustice and oppression against women is not just inhuman but unislamic too”, says Gousiya Khan, a postgraduate student in Psychology.
“Another day in the long list of days which we celebrate every year, nothing has changed! The patriarchal mindsets are still there. A bold woman having many male friends is still seen as a wh*re! Travelling alone is again an unthinkable idea. Where are women’s rights? Just hollow talks and much ado about nothing”, says Hirra Azmat, Journalism student from MERC, University of Kashmir.
“Girls here get catcalled for just dressing comfortable while guys can go beyond limits and no one bats an eye. I am not against their freedom but no one should have the right to tell me if I should dress in a particular way”, said Maria Shahmiri, a renowned visual artist based in Kashmir.