Shaykh Farhat Sugra
We are inundated by multiple social evils leaving us frustrated, perplexed, restless, uncomfortable, and worrisome. The multi-dimensional social evils in the form of dowry, suicides, molestation, and extravagance in marriages, drug addiction and moral degradation have plagued our society. And the greatest of the tragedies is that our youth who have to take forward our society and legacy is getting attracted towards various forms of social evils.
Our weddings have been lavish and over exaggerated. We spend lakhs of rupees only on meals, forget about other expenses. It is not only about demanding the dowry; most of the bride’s families willingly send expensive things worth lakhs with the bride for her in-laws family. Seldom do we care about the poor who can’t afford it. With these evil innovations taking birth in our society, willingly or unwillingly, others too are bound to follow the footsteps. Who suffers? Only the daughter of the poor who can’t afford it! With a rich and middle class setting a wrong example in the society, lower middle and poor class suffer the most. Their daughters find tough to get married, with their growing age , the chances of them getting married diminishes. Recently, a 34 year old woman in Khanyar who was a mother of two children set herself ablaze on Eid-ul-Azha after facing harassment from her in-laws. The woman as per her relatives was continuously harassed by her in-laws after failing to fulfil their demand of dowry.
The National Crime Bureau Records of India suggests that the rate of suicide in Jammu and Kashmir is much higher than many other states in India. The staggering figures reveal that Kashmir has a higher suicide rate at 2.1 percent than the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh (1.7) and Bihar (0.7). And, the graph on the rise dangerously blemishes our social and cultural integrity.
If we analyse the above figures, it is easy to find out that the major reason for increased suicide rates in Kashmir is the conflictual conditions post 1989. Late Bashir Ahmad Dabla, the Ex- Head of the Department of Sociology, University of Kashmir, wrote in his book that 62 per cent of the suicides in the Valley involved women while men comprised 38 percent. The reason is very obvious, due the ongoing turmoil in Kashmir; women have been the silent sufferers.
Alongside that, there are other reasons too that has added more salt to the wounds of our people. One of them is growing unemployment in Kashmir. More than three lakh educated youth have registered themselves in the employment exchange. But, unofficial reports confirm that around 25 lakh youth who have the capability and skills are jobless.
Another major factor that is digging deep is the immense pressure on our students to pass the examination with good marks. It’s the fault of parents where they have forgotten to teach their kids to use the failure as a ladder to success, and learn from the mistakes and move ahead. The results are out and many students attempt suicide, most of them die.
Drug addiction, which was alien to Kashmir, has is now steadily embedded in Kashmiri society. Besides the old-style drugs cannabis (Charas), opium, alcohol addiction, prescription drugs including Benzodiazepine, Corex, Alprax have become common here.
Today one among the alarming issues is eve teasing in our public transport which women often come across. This is something which needs to be taken head on. Transport has become a challenge for women folk who, every now and then have a complaint of teasing and feel frustrated at the alarming increase in such incidents. It has also become nightmarish for women folk , since local buses are usually over loaded. Some ill-mannered and undignified people take undue advantage of the situation unnecessary pushing and managing closeness with women; needless gazing and staring have become the order of the day and thus creates an extremely embarrassing situation for women folk.
There are horrible incidents that speak volumes about the hostility and cruelty towards the girl child. In most cases, woman agrees to abort her female foetus, when she succumbs to family pressures. Her life is made hell through the illogical demands of in-laws for a male child.
Among the states, it is Jammu and Kashmir which is in the top list with unrestrained corruption. Growing corruption closes doors of development and weakens economy. Corruption also leads to poverty, unemployment, and delay in works. It has become a socially accepted crime.
Begging mafia is on enormous peak in social set-up now-a-days. It has posed a serious threat to the socio-economic, political and cultural diversity of the society. It is a menace of destitute and disgrace that is well-organized group controlled mafia. Rich become richer and poor becomes poorer in this organised mafia. There are many causes of child labour; poverty, being one of the main reasons followed by illiteracy and ignorance of the parents. It is beyond any doubt that children are forced by their circumstances to undertake labour at a tender age when life conditions are pathetic and when they should be in the schools.
Kashmir, the ‘Peer Waer’ which was known for its unique culture based on values of humanism and brotherhood is turning out to be hotbed for various social evils. The innocence of people has somehow faded away due to which the anti-social incidents happen after every now and then. No religion or sect of any religion has ever approved any evil. All the religions stress upon mankind to fight against evils. But unfortunately, what we see presently is sheer deviation from our religious scriptures.
To combat the menace of grave social evils listed above we, there is an urgent need to create a peaceful atmosphere where everyone lives in peace with one another. We have to strike a strong chord of unity and harmony irrespective of creed, caste, colour and status to create an evil free society. We all young, elders irrespective of caste, creed and religion will have to unite and protect the Kashmir’s unique culture which is typically based on innocence and hospitability. Government authorities, civil-society and other bodies should put their efforts in place to end this social evil.
The eradication of social ills from the society which was our social and religious obligations has remained confined to some NGOs and religious bodies while a common man is not paying heed towards it. It is the high time for everyone in general and for the intellectuals in particular to wake up to the occasion and change the face of the society and contribute for its betterment. It is only a crime free and healthy society that can produce true political leaders, religious clerics and representatives of other sections of society which in turn can lead to a healthy society. Let us be the change we wish to see in others.
—The author is a Post-Graduate Student of Islamic Studies, University of Kashmir. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org