Kashmir’s Half Widows

Kashmir’s Half Widows
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The conflict in and over Kashmir has, among other things, affected all classes and genres of people. This includes women. The most egregious and massive brunt has been borne by what has been termed as the “half widows” of Kashmir. The term “half widows” refers to those victims whose husbands have disappeared. That is, while whereabouts are unknown as they have been victims of enforced disappearances. They cannot, however, be even presumed dead even though they might actually be dead. Half widows of Kashmir then live in a grey zone; they can neither remarry nor lay a claim on the properties of their husbands. There then is an overlay of misery and depredations that visits half widows. Often times, they are neither educated nor economically empowered to rebuild their lives. Is there any way that the half widows of Kashmir can get redeemed and live a life of dignity? While the whole saga is ridden with difficulties and issues-legal, political, social and socio-economic-, in the least, a Modus Vivendi needs to be found for Kashmir’s half widows. One measure that stares us in the face is that state needs to come clean on the disappearance of the husbands of these victims. If and when there is clarity regarding this, then a forward movement can take place and half widows can resume living a life of dignity and rebuild these lives. But, there is an obvious glitch in this proposal. This lies in the reluctance of the state to come clean. In effect, this would mean indicting itself. The other step, in the interim, that can be taken till there is clarity on the disappeared is for society to step in this humanitarian issue. Half widows, to repeat, on account of their grey zone and thereby unclear status, live half lives that are in limbo. They face depredations of all kinds and words which include economic and social ones. Society, instead of being indifferent to their plight, must reach out to half widows and take them under its wing, so to speak. The specifics of this would be to not merely give them money but empower these victims economically, by perhaps, imparting skills and encourage them to be economically and financially independent, among other forms of support. Half widows of Kashmir, are victims, of larger forces but society has actually forgotten about them. This is an omission that goes against the compassionate nature of Kashmiris. It is then about time that we take stock of the condition of half widows and redeem ourselves by immediately coming to their assistance.


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