Women’s group condemns spurt in molestation cases

SRINAGAR: In the wake of recent molestation charges against Director Health Services Kashmir, a women’s group comprising scholars and activists has condemned “increasing” number of molestation cases in the Valley.
Referring to the incidents as ‘apparent situation of lawlessness and moral degradation’, the group appealed the authorities concerned to address the issue earnestly.
“The violence against women on streets of Kashmir is alarming and needs to be addressed before it turns into a malaise. The crimes against women on roads, teachers and principals against female students, doctors against patients, and officials against their co-workers is increasing,” Kashmir Women’s Rights Group said in a statement.
The members of the group have held the state administration responsible for the “growing incidents” of sexual violence against women especially at workplaces. “Such particular cases where state officials are involved are not a new thing. Earlier too we witnessed surge in sexual crimes against women including the notorious sex racket (of 206) in which state officials were implicated,” said Inshah Malik, a core member of the group, adding that “the state operates in a corrupt way.”
Besides the need for overhaul in the state policies, the group sought political awakening of Kashmiri women. “We need to push for politicisation of Kashmiri women who are mostly unaware of their rights in such circumstances,” said Malik.
She said that with the nurse coming in open in identifying her alleged molesters, many more would take lead. “I am sure many Kashmiri women will come forward with a more articulated response to end such discrimination and oppression in our society,” said Malik, a doctoral candidate at the School of International studies, JNU, New Delhi, and also an International Fellow at Macmillan Center, Yale University, US.
Appreciating the courage of the nurse, the other members of the group said that such cases go unnoticed due to the stigmatization of the victims. “We stand by her (the nurse) as she has taken a strong stand, rejecting victimhood and dared to come in the open against the powerful,” said Farhana Latief, another member of the group who is pursuing LLM from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
She, however, cautioned that whenever any victim speaks against sexual exploitation there is lot of character assassination. “Only few take the courage to come forward and stand against the powerful. And when they do, they see the whole system against them. Character assassination of victims is an age-old practice by the dominant gender,” said the law scholar. “Whenever a complaint of such nature is filed, the defense of accused quickly shifts on the character of complainant to show her of low morals.”
The group has demanded fair probe of the case.