Despite living in conflict, Kashmiri women have made a mark in every field, including education, sports, entrepreneurship, civil services, medicine, etc.
The Taliban taking over Afghanistan has led to tens of thousands of women fleeing the country to escape the atrocities of the new regime. Humeira Rizai, a researcher and activist from Afghanistan, who reached New Delhi from Kabul, while talking to reporters said, “Women were executed and beaten (when Taliban took over earlier). They took away all their rights. Women worked very hard to get back on their feet since 2000 which has again been lost.”
“When the Taliban ruled the country in 2000, all the rights of women were snatched and they were not treated as humans,” she said.
Now, the Taliban is back in 2021. And women in Afghanistan don’t expect any better deal from them as they are aware of the fact that the Taliban would never respect their rights.
As expected, the Afghan militia has made it explicitly clear that women cannot be treated at par with men.
To begin with, the Taliban has banned the entry of female staffers in the organizations they were working for, the concept of co-education has been wiped off and the head of Taliban’s cultural commission Ahmadullah Wasiq has announced that women’s sport is neither appropriate nor necessary. So, the Taliban is back with a bang, with women being on its hit list.
After the change of guard in Afghanistan, there have been murmurs in Kashmir that its effect may spillover into the Valley, which is ‘slowly recovering’ from 30 years of insurgency and violence.
The apprehension is not misplaced, as Pakistan has not given up and the people sitting across the Line of Control (LoC) would try their best to push Taliban fighters into Kashmir. But Pakistan would think hundred times before planning any misadventure as India is not the same as it was in 2000; it can retaliate in a big way.
The change in Afghanistan has prompted some fanatics in Kashmir to believe that the Taliban will come to the Valley and help the militants and separatists to foment trouble again. These unscrupulous elements are openly threatening women folk through social media and are trying to drive home a point that they would ‘meet the same fate like the women in Afghanistan’.
But the women in Kashmir are neither scared nor are they taking these hate mongers seriously. Kashmiri women, by dint of their determination and hard work, have proven to the world that they can compete with men in every field. During the past thirty years of conflict in Jammu and Kashmir, militants and separatists missed no opportunity to intimidate the women and turn them into second fiddles but the fairer sex in Kashmir never got bogged down and kept on moving ahead.
There is no field in Kashmir where women are not present. The success stories of Kashmiri women have inspired females across the world to follow in their footsteps. There is no possibility about Kashmiri women accepting the Taliban culture in the Valley.
History stands testimony to the fact that Kashmiri women have never bowed down to threats and pressures. When armed insurgency broke out in Kashmir in 1990, the militants sponsored by Pakistan targeted working women and made every possible attempt to confine them within the four walls of their homes. Acid attacks were carried out to make women wear veils and a diktat was issued to private organizations not to employ females. But the women folk in Kashmir stood against the militants and the extremists. They didn’t succumb to pressure.
The Pakistan sponsored women’s radical group Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) — led by Asiya Andrabi, presently lodged at Tihar Jail in New Delhi along with her aides — tried to enforce its writ by hounding women in public places and even on the roadside. But common Kashmiri women fought back and there were many instances of DeM activists tasting the dose of their own medicine after facing resistance.
The DeM, despite resorting to every tactic, failed to make the women folk in Kashmir wear a burqa (veil). During the hey days of militancy in Kashmir, the DeM activists were infamous for raiding parks and restaurants. But the women in Kashmir were never influenced by the ideology of the group. They kept moving on with their lives and kept achieving one milestone after another.
Many young artists, including girls, have proven their mettle in the recent past. These artists are participating in stage shows, performing during wedding functions and other cultural events. The videos of their performances on social media have gone viral. These budding artists are writing a new chapter in the history of Kashmir.
Young women have contested elections, are playing football and cricket and are taking part in fashion shows and other events. They are participating in recruitment drives for police forces and other security forces. Women are running successful business ventures, are doctors, engineers and consultants. They are least interested in the Taliban and the narrative that a few people are trying to build about the Afghan militia helping Pakistan to revive militancy in Kashmir.
The horrifying videos of women being ill treated by Taliban in Afghanistan have gone viral in Kashmir. Social media has exposed the barbaric face of the extremists who have taken over the control of Afghanistan. Women who have fled the country are narrating dreadful tales. No woman in Kashmir wants such men to reach the Valley. Nor do they want to see any radical outfit re-emerging.
Kashmir has a history of women working along with men and that hasn’t changed. The Jamaat-e-Islami, before being banned in 2019, made many attempts through militants to exert control over women. However, it could’t achieve much. One thing is for sure and it is that Kashmiri women cannot be bogged down, nor can they be treated as commodities.
Even if the Taliban spillover reaches Kashmir, women folk will reject it and won’t allow anyone to control their lives. Pakistan-sponsored separatists are in no position to enforce their writ in Kashmir as they have been cut to size. Their sympathizers have gone underground. The money which used to flow into Kashmir through illegal hawala channels has been blocked.
Even if Pakistan seeks the help of the Taliban to fight the proxy war — which it has lost in J&K — there is no chance of these extremists finding any support in Kashmir and the women will be the first ones to oppose them. (IANS)