KIIR virtual conference demands end of violence against women in Kashmir

Islamabad: Highlighting the alarming increase in violence against women in the UN recognized disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir; the panelists at a Webinar said that the rising tide of violence against women in Kashmir merits urgent attention and action by the international community to combat this menace.

The Webinar titled ‘Combating violence against women’ was convened by the Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR) in collaboration with World Muslim Congress (WMC), Community Human Rights and Advocacy Centre (CHRAC) and International Muslim Women Union (IMWU) was organized at the sidelines of the 44th session of United Nations Human Rights council. The Webinar gathered well reputed independent international experts and rights activists championing the women rights including Margaret Owen OBE, Julie Ward former MEP, Marina Zucca, an expert in International Human Rights Law and International Criminal Law, Catherine Constantinides Human rights defender from South Africa, Dr Saira Shah, Ms. Soraya Boyd UK.

The KIIR Chairman Altaf Hussain Wani while welcoming the panelists formally opened a debate on the topic, whereas, the rest of the proceedings were moderated by Prof. Shagufta Ashraf.

Highlighting the alarming increase in violence against women in the UN recognized disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the panelists strongly condemned the structural, physical, psychological, sexual forms of violence committed against Kashmiri women of all age groups including young and adolescent girls.

Veteran women rights barrister Margaret Owen OBE while elaborating the types of violence inflicted upon the women said, “This should not be looked upon as a cause for celebration but as a matter to be deplored principally because in Kashmir more than anywhere else COVID19 is killing many men, which means that there are more widows”.

Julie Ward, who recently lost her mother while referring to the plight of Kashmir women, said that she was incredibly fortunate to be able to grieve and go through the precious bereavement process, which she said was forcibly denied to Kashmiri mothers and wives, children and relatives whose near and dear ones were being killed.

Marina Zucca, an expert in International Human Rights Law and International Criminal Law, stated that the government of India was committing genocide by targeting a specific majority group namely Kashmiri Muslims with a view to deleting this group and turning it into a Hindu region.

Speaking on the occasion Catherine Constantinides emphasized the need to work together to support the right to self-determination of Kashmiri people.

Dr. Saira Shah emphasized the fact that Kashmiris were suffering immensely at the hands of occupying authorities. Regarding sexual violence and its effect on mental health she said that the occupying power’s practice of stripping women naked was described as a systemic policy which negatively affect a woman sense of self and will.

Soraya Boyd said that Kashmiris were enduring multiple forms of lockdown due to illegal Indian military occupation. She stated emphatically that under Modi’s watch India was no longer a constitutional, secular, democratic, egalitarian or pluralistic state. Modi’s government she said promotes and supports ethnic hatred and faith violence against Kashmiris.

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