SRINAGAR: Most of the educated women in Srinagar appear not to be interested in casting their vote during upcoming parliamentary elections, citing reasons like less rights and privileges which the women enjoy.
Many educated women who chose to speak to Kashmir Reader said they fervently believed their vote won’t make any difference.
Lawyer Narjees Nawab, for instance, believes that women’s vote is not of much help and it is a socio-political election with no gender sensitivity. “Gender has no significant role to play, neither inclusion nor reference in any election manifesto, be it from female contender or male. There is no gender sensitivity,” she said.
Nawab said that the issues pertaining to women are always given less priority over other things. “Like always, gender is a non-issue in here. It becomes an issue only for teaching moral values to girls,” she said.
Echoing similar views, Shaheen Bashir, a college lecturer said, “As per government revelations only 12 per cent of women constitute its workforce. A government where there is such less space for a woman, what significance does her vote hold? Probably nothing.”
Mariya Zahoor, a banker, said that women’s right to vote has no importance at a place where women’s safety and empowerment are taken for a ride. “I would have voted for a government that ensures safety of women. But sad enough, they only talk about bijli, sadak and pani. Nobody talks about women empowerment, women safety. Every other day, a woman faces one or the other form of brutality in Kashmir. And the culprits roam around freely. I cannot think of casting my vote under such deplorable condition of women folk,” said Zahoor.
Adding another dimension, Dr Taizeena Khan, Founder/Principal ‘Red Letter Phyline(RLP)’, Centre for women’s and Pediatric Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation, said that it is unfair for people to vote at ‘gunpoint’.
“I wonder how people can cast their votes under restrictions. It is quite likely that on the day of voting, we will be put under curfew or restrictions and asked to vote. How fair is that? In my opinion, nobody should vote, be it women or men. Let them first provide us freedom of speech and then ask us to vote for them,” Khan said.
Adding to it, Sabah Yaqoob, a Management student, said, “Our state is politically unstable and I think it is of no use to cast a vote. How can we caste our votes when the government could not punish the rapists and murderers of Asiya and Neelofar (in Shopian in 2009). Our women have been molested and our governments have tried to shield the culprits. So I would say whichever party comes to power in Kashmir, it is all the same as long as our issues aren’t solved.”