Molestation becomes Indian forces’ key war weapon in IIOJK

ISLAMABAD, Sep 20 (APP):Another international peace day has arrived, but plight of Kashmiri women remains same who are facing worst form of suppression in the Indian IIOJK where molestation becomes a key war weapon of the Indian forces for countering the decades-long indigenous freedom movement. Sexual assault of young and old Kashmiri females with unprecedented immunity is a wake-up call for the entire international community which has already taken multiple initiatives to address gender-based violence in other conflict zones. The United Nations (UN) has adopted international commitments to address gender-related violence in the most turbulent regions. It includes the UN Security Council resolution 1960, which provides an accountability system for conflict-related sexual violence; stipulates coordinated and timely collection of information on such violence; and calls for countries to establish specific time-bound obligations. It is a high time for the international community to renew its commitment, on this International Peace Day to be held on Tuesday, to bring sexual violence in conflict zones especially in Indian Illegally Occupied Jummu and Kashmir to a permanent end by implementing the relevant conventions. Sexual war crimes of Indian forces in the IIOJK are not novel, but a constant crime spree against innocent Kashmiri women who have been left at the mercy of the Indian government led by Narendra Modi’s RSS-BJP (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-Bharatiya Janata Party) by the international community. The mass-sexual assault incident of Kunan Poshpora occurred 30 years ago on February 23, 1991, when units of the Indian army launched a search and interrogation operation in the twin villages of Kunan and Poshpora, located in Kashmir’s remote Kupwara District, will continue to haunt the champion of women human rights who are yet to take any action against the Indian forces. Approximately 100 women were raped at that night, while minor girls, the dumb and deaf, the physically handicapped and pregnant women were not even spared during that despicable operation. Mothers were sexual assaulted in front of their daughters. Grandmothers and their granddaughters were sexually assaulted in the same room. A report based on women’s testimonies from the Kashmir Valley confirmed that women were brutally targeted by security forces. Most of the sexual assault cases had occurred during cordon-and-search operations, it added. The conflict has affected the women folk in Kashmir in many different ways. Besides causing severe disruption in their education, job opportunities, and overall development, the ongoing conflict has taken coerce, humiliate, and degrade the womenfolk, the report maintained and noted that the 15-month long military clampdown and information blockade imposed on Kashmir by the government of India on August 05, 2019 has added fuel to the injuries of Kashmiri women. Nusrat Sidiq, a Kashmir-based journalist covering human rights issues, said years of conflict had already fuelled alarming levels of untreated mental illness in Kashmir but the months’ long crippling clampdown was adding to civilian trauma in the disputed region. Dr Maria Sultan, President and Chairperson, South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) University said Kashmiri women had turned stateless, human-less and selfless after the new act passed by the Indian legislators regarding the disputed territory. According to Kashmir Media Service, the Indian forces sexually assaulted more than 11,245 women in IIOJK during the past three decades as they used harassment and molestation as a weapon of war in the territory. A recent report also released by Kashmir Media Service said Indian forces’ aggression in the occupied territory had left 22,923 women widowed since January 1989 to till date. It revealed that nearly 100 women were sexually assaulted by brutal Indian troops in IIOJK’s Kunan and Poshpora villages on February 23, 1991. Rape was sanctioned as a matter of official policy in the occupied territory, it added. It said rights’ bodies around the globe have also documented many cases of sexual assault and collective sexual assault by Indian forces in the territory and despite evidence, but not a single Indian soldier has been punished for committing sexual assault. The report maintained that rapist Indian forces were an ugly blot on humanity and the world community must wake up to stop sexual violence being used as war tactics in IIOJK. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) activist Tahira Habib while talking to APP on Monday condemned Indian military brutalities which were making the future of a large number of Kashmiri women and young girls bleak. She said abduction and molestation of young women during so-called cordon-and-search operations had been used as a tool by Indian forces to punish entire communities. The world must wake up from deep slumber to contain sexual violence being used as war tactics in the occupied territory. Talking to APP, human rights activist and wife of jailed hurriyat leader, Yasin Malick, Mushaal Mullick, said, “Women and children as the vulnerable segments of society were suffering the most in the IIOJK due to rape, torture and mental trauma.” She said the valley had numerous victims of sexual and the highest ratio of widows which were under reported. The human rights activist said that menfolk were not getting job opportunities in the occupied territory, therefore, due to socioeconomic pressure; women had to struggle hard and stepped out from homes for jobs. She, however, said that women were harassed, followed, stared, abused and tortured who were working for their livelihood. Brutal force was being used against the unarmed civilians in the valley, she added.\9329/20/2021 7:34:53 PM