Harassment Victims In Kashmir Share Their Horrible Tales

Harassment Victims In Kashmir Share Their Horrible Tales

18 February 2014
India Today
Naseer Ganai

Srinagar: At a time when former J&K minister of state for health Shabir Khan is in the news for allegedly molesting a lady doctor in his chamber, a government official and a bank employee organised a unique event on Sunday at a local restaurant on the banks of river Jhelum to highlight issues of violence against women. Mantasha Binti Rashid - the government official, and Ejaz Ayub - the bank employee asked women from all walks of life to write down about harassments they have faced in their lives for being women. The outcome shocked them. 'We held the event so that people should talk and write about violence against women. The stories which women wrote about themselves are horrible. There are stories of rape by father and by cousin brother. Some wrote about indecent gesturing, stalking, touching and sexual harassment in offices and public places,' said Rashid. Rashid is a Kashmir Administrative Service officer and posted as an information officer. She has been writing about gender and violence. Ayub works as a business strategist with the Jammu and Kashmir Bank. Prior to the event, Rashid had posted a message on social networking site Facebook asking people, especially women, to visit the venue and write about their ordeals. 'Before the initiative, people told me that Srinagar is not the place where these things occur,' she said. 'I was told Kashmir is a place where violence against women doesn't take place. There were people who told me that no one will turn up to share her story,' she said. But on Sunday, women dropped in unexpectedly and started writing down their experiences. 'We identified no one. But the initiative gave us the feel of what is going on in the society. The purpose of this effort was to see how society is dealing with women and how we can help them,' Rashid said. 'We knew violence against women is a reality, but we wanted some autobiographical evidences,' she said. 'A lady wrote about how her husband divorced her once she failed to fulfil his dowry demands. In another case, a husband was taking away the entire salary of his wife and was giving her only the pocket money. This snowballed into violence and finally ended in a divorce. A girl narrated about being raped by her father for seven long years and finally she told her mother who refused to believe her.' Rashid also mentioned a lady official who wrote about how she sought transfer after being harassed by her superior who wanted sexual favours from her. Rashid got the idea to organise the event from activists of One Billion Rising for Justice. One Billion Rising revolves around the theme that one billion women suffer violence and one billion people across the world stand up against that violence. The campaign is active in 207 countries.