Skip to main content

Kashmir's half-widows: "Gender neutral" international, Indian, Islamic laws fail to address women's plight

By Our Representative
A recent interview-based policy paper says that, not just Indian laws, but even international laws, as also Islamic jurisdiction, fail to address the plight of an estimate 4,000 to 8,000 half-widows of Kashmir. They are called half-widows because their husbands have “disappeared” in strife-torn Kashmir Valley, never to return.
Their problem becomes even more vulnerable because, the policy paper says, India has not ratified the UN convention enforced disappearances (CED) or accepted its jurisdiction. It indicates lack of India’s willingness to prosecute the crime of enforced disappearances in Kashmir.”
Titled “The Plight of Kashmiri Half-Widows”, by Deya Bhattacharya, released by the Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy” (2016), the policy paper is based on interviews with what 55 “half-widows” in November 2014 and another 35 between May and August 2015 in Srinagar, Bandipore, Budgam and Kupwara district.
The paper regrets, appallingly, even the “international law makes it difficult to define the half-widow as an isolated victim, independent of the continuous crime of enforced disappearance that her husband was a direct victim of, thereby establishing the primary victim/secondary victim dichotomy.”
This is because, says the paper, “Except for the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly), all the instruments adhere to a strict gender-neutral manner of defining harms.”
Suggesting that even the community to which majority of half-wives belong provides little help, the paper says, “Under Islamic jurisprudence, a widow with children gets one-eighth of her husband’s property. A widow without children gets one-fourth. A half-widow, till her husband is declared dead, gets nothing.”
It adds, “Islam encourages remarriage, and it would probably make sense for half-widows to get remarried so that their vulnerability is not exploited. However, not many widows prefer to remarry.”
As for India, the paper says, “Enforced disappearance is not a codified crime under any law either in Jammu & Kashmir or in India. Despite a number of international conventions and a customary international law that prohibit the crime of enforced disappearance, it will be practically impossible to make these applicable in India unless it ratifies the treaties and/or makes a legislation on the same.”
The paper underlines, “The state has not acknowledged the crimes by its agents, and has repeatedly maintained that the whole Kashmir affair has been something of a ‘proxy war’ with Pakistan”, adding, “It maintains that there is heavy terrorist activity in the area, and that laws like the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) are necessary in the interests of national security.”
Even the ex-gratia relief mechanism is faulty, as is not backed by law, but by a government official order, the paper says. The half-widow must apply to the district magistrate for ex-gratia. Application goes to the district screening-cum-coordinator committee”, which must “ascertaining whether the disappeared person can be presumed dead.”
Interestingly, the paper says, the “committee is in no way an impartial one — it is constituted of officials and representatives from the police, the security forces as well as governmental agencies. Many a times, the committee might comprise the same people who perpetrated the crimes.”
The result is that the interviewed women say that, while the security forces claim to share classified information about the whereabouts of their husbands/sons “a class of ‘messengers’ has sprung up and made a business out of this desperation, charging exorbitant amounts.”
And, many a time, women are subjected “sexual harassment, during their search for their husbands, remain silent about the ways in which the state or non-state actors have violated their private spaces…”
---
Click HERE to download the paper

Comments

TRENDING

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.