SRINAGAR: Victims of domestic violence are making distress calls to various non-governmental organisations operating in Kashmir, seeking help and a way out.
The number of such callers has seen an upper skew in the recent past. Besides reporting abuses, the callers also try to find remedies for harassment and humiliation at home.
Nighat Pandith, chairperson of HELP Foundation, an NGO, claims her organisation receives 30 such calls every month wherein the victims seek counselling on domestic violence and other abuses at home.
“Most of these callers complain about the troubled family setup and violence they face,” said Pandit.
She said that most of the callers are from Pattan and Dal Lake areas.
“These women hail from economically-deprived and dependent families which makes them prone to abuse at home,” she said.
Another NGO Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) too claims about receiving distress calls from victims of domestic violence.
“It is a positive sign that victims of domestic violence are opening up to express their problems,” said Yasir Qureshi, Coordinator IGSSS.
“At the same time, these calls are cause of concern because it reveals rot in our social setup.”
Yasir said that his NGO is motivating women in different pockets of Kashmir to speak up for themselves. “Most of the callers get legal help from us,” Yasir said.
Alarming increase in the number of distress calls to various NGOs from victims of domestic violence has exposed a serious social problem faced by women in Kashmir.
Data available regarding domestic violence cases reveals that since 2009, 4157 persons were booked for resorting to violence against women at home. The previous dispensation had in fact assured during the last sitting of Legislative Assembly that government planned to establish a Women’s Helpline with an objective to provide toll-free 24 hours service to women affected by violence at home.
But despite government assurances and enacting of J&K Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2010, the number of cases has gone up.
Dr Mohammad Maqbool Dar, head of the department at Psychiatric Diseases Hospital, said, “Ninety-five per cent women visiting the hospital to treat depression have a history of domestic violence. In other words, it is domestic violence that is triggering depression in women.” Depression is number one ailment in Kashmir and it is mainly aided by domestic violence, warns Dr Dar.
According to the medico, domestic violence is causing stress disorder, suicidal tendency and other mental ailments in these women.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international medical humanitarian organisation aiding people affected by armed conflict, natural disasters and healthcare, is also alarmed at the number of distress calls it receives from women in Kashmir.
“We receive number of calls from women facing mental trauma due to domestic violence,” said an MSF officer, who shared details pleading anonymity. “We receive 100 calls a month from females, of them 70 callers talk about domestic violence.”