All-women Separatist Squads Raid Brothels In Kashmir
30 August 2005
Srinagar: A hard-line Islamic women's separatist group said on Tuesday it had begun raiding brothels in Kashmir to stamp out 'adultery and the flesh-trade.' Aasiya Andrabi, head of the separatist Dukhtaran-e- Milat, or Daughters of Faith, announced over the weekend the formation of all-women squads to raid brothels in the state . 'We will expose those indulging in immoral activities,' Andrabi, a fiery speaker who has in the past voiced admiration for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, told the Current News Agency. 'We raided several places in Srinagar Monday after getting calls from people,' she said, issuing an appeal to people to 'arrest moral degradation.' The women, travelling in three-wheel auto-rickshaws and cars, were staging the raids enveloped in head-to-toe veils in line with strict Islamic tradition, a witness told AFP. Police, however, declined to comment. But they have been staging raids in Srinagar and other parts of the Kashmir Valley over the past few weeks on brothels and made several arrests. Andrabi, whose husband is in jail on charges of being a militant, supplied a mobile telephone number for people to call 'whenever you are convinced a man or woman has entered some place to commit adultery.' Adultery is illegal in the state and carries a potential jail term. 'During one of the raids, the men immediately fled from the house but the women were caught and questioned,' she said, adding the group was seeking to persuade them to change their ways. Andrabi, 40, and mother of two sons, said the group's members were able to free a women from two men who had lured her into becoming a prostitute. Andrabi said members had also swooped on restaurants and Internet cafes where they found teenage boys and girls. The group plans to talk to their parents. The group has earlier smeared black paint on racy Bollywood film posters portraying revealingly clad women. It has also been campaigning for women to veil themselves fully. The drive has been largely unsuccessful in the region, which espouses a more liberal form of Islam. In a break with the past when attitudes towards mixing between the sexes were more conservative, younger people in Kashmir are frequently seen dating in restaurants and walking in parks.