Thousands of "half widows" await justice in Kashmir

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Old 17-Mar-2010
Und3rgr0und J4tt1
Thousands of "half widows" await justice in Kashmir

As the world celebrates the International Women's Day today, several thousands of women in the Kashmir valley are awaiting for information or contact with their husbands who disappeared without a trace during the two decades' old turmoil. During the past 20 years of turmoil, several thousands of people had disappeared. The majority of them went missing after they were allegedly arrested by security forces during counter insurgency operations. Now their family members have formed an organisation, 'Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons', holding silent demosntrations on the 10th of every month at Partap Park near here. ''We are half widows as the government has failed to provide us any clues about our husbands,'' said a group of the affected women, alleging that their husband were arrested during the past 20 years of turmoil. Despite repeated requests to order a probe into all such disappearances, nothing has been done by the government, the group alleged. They have appealed to the government to order a probe in the matter. ''We are neither married nor widows as we do not know about the fate of our husbands,'' they said and pleaded, ''If they have been killed let the government inform us about their graves for our satisfaction.'' The government should probe all unidentified graves discovered in the valley, the women demanded.
. The turmoil has taken away sons and husbands. The women alleged that the security forces had killed their husbands who were not involved in any insurgency operations. The mothers have been visiting interrogation centres, jails, grave yards and other places in the hope of meeting their loved ones there. However, there has been an overall change in the lifestyle of women in the valley as they are helping their men in farming and other day-to-day work. Even though the percentage of literacy among the women has risen, it still lags below male literacy. Women, who remained confined in their homes during the turmoil and were directed to wear 'burqa', are nowadays working at petrol pumps. They are also selling dusters and working as sales girls. Crime against women too has increased as the incidents of suicides or attempt to suicide by women are reported daily. Though women still cannot avail the facility of reserved seats in buses, they are working in banks, computer centres and education department in large numbers. The fish business has remained in the hands of women who are selling fish, captured by their menfolk in the market

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