Alarming and shameful

Never has it happened before in the abode of saints. But closing eyes to a harsh reality will amount to suicide. The society has to wake up and take measures to prevent what noted sociologist Professor Bashir Ahmad Dabla has found out through his study. According to the study, the molestation of women is on rise in Kashmir. Reasons ranging from modernization to massive militarization have been given for the disturbing trend. The survey found cousins, relatives and neighbours responsible in the domestic context and office colleagues and armed forces in wider context. The study reveals that office colleagues and armed forces were responsible for 60 percent of the cases.  Contrary to common belief physical features of the women and indecent dress constitute just 2 percent and 4 percent of the total cases. Molestation, the survey says mostly happens at crowded places and in fields.  The irony is that the clergy accuse the women of spreading promiscuity and waywardness. But the study proves that males also play a role in polluting the society. Most of the victims never report such incidents. Professor Dabla after studying 66 odd cases came to know that only five victims had reported to the police. Most of the cases, therefore, go unreported and the woman suffers alone.  There have been instances when repeated molestation has ended in suicide attempts.  The study discusses in detail the short term and long term implications of molestation on the lives of the victims. Most of the victims prefer silence. This response may be explained in terms of the tendency to hide the actual details. However, a few respondents conveyed theconsequences of molestation as losing good reputation, creatingmarital problems, compelling some to commit suicide, difficulty ingetting proper match for girls, developing psychological problems, andextreme and negative reaction of men.  The study was conducted almost a decade ago and the learned professor fears that the percentage now will be much higher than they had estimated when the study was held. Recent cases have proved the learned professor correct.  He suggests a broad based social initiative on part of individuals and groups to stop the menace.  The administration did a good job a few years ago by reserving seats for women in   passenger buses but more often than not these seats are occupied by men and this is where molestation happens with impunity. There are enough laws to prevent sexual assaults against women but the job cannot be entrusted to the police entirely. As the professor has mentioned, it has to be fought by one and all. The clergy and the civil society have to play a vital role in ensuring safety and integrity of women.