Impunity for sexual abuses is one of the serious challenges in Indian Administered Kashmir. Women living in world’s most militarized region have been living in fear. Not a single rape incident committed by Indian Armed forces has been investigated or prosecuted in any civilian court.
In 2018, efforts were made by support group for justice for Kunan Poshpora victims. They filled a petition before the state human rights commission and demanded details of investigation into all sexual violence cases committed by Indian Armed Forces. The state human rights commission was disbanded after the unilateral annexation of the disputed territory and the sexual violence cases especially Kunan Poshpora mass rape shelved.
February 23, is observed as Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day, paying tribute to the struggles and courage of the Kunan Poshpora mass-rape victims. Kunan Poshpora mass rape incident took place 31 years ago. During the night of February 23, 1991, more than 300 Indian Army Personnel trespassed into the twin villages of Kunan and Poshpora in northern Kupwara..
After 31 years of Kunan Poshpora incident, Indian Armed forces enjoy the impunity for sexual violence. A number of sexual harassment incidents took place after the unilateral annexation of the disputed territory on 5th august 2019. In Habak area of Srinagar city, the central reserve police forces (CRPF) harassed the women during the night raids on 5th august. The CRPF personnel pointed guns on the chests of women and tried to molest them. In Kulgam, the armed forces entered in homes during night raids and sexually abused women. In the same district many young boys were sexually tortured in detention centers.
Various BJP members and army personnel said, after August 5, 2019, they will marry with Kashmiri girls and take over their property. Chief Minister of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar from BJP talked about the disproportionate gender ratio in his state, he said earlier they used to bring girls from Bihar now they will bring from Kashmir.
A villager of Nadipora Pulwama was dragged out of his house at mid night onto the road by Indian forces and made to stand naked in a queue along with 11 people of the same village and were beaten and electrocuted in private parts. After the torture they were made to lie face down in a pile on top of each other
Another challenge for human rights in IOK is the cases of half widows. The cases of half widows or half wives is a very serious issue and is closely related to crimes of enforced disappearances and unidentified graves. Half widows or half wives is the name given to Kashmiri women whose husbands have disappeared and whose whereabouts are unknown. These disappearances have been carried out by Indian armed forces. No human rights organization or group knows the exact number of half widows or wives due to the widespread violence and lack of access to remote areas but the human rights group Jammu Kashmir coalition of civil society reports that they had detected two thousand cases of half widows in Kashmir valley.
It’s possible these missing persons may have been buried in an unidentified graves too. The unidentified graves or mass graves are more than seven thousand in the disputed territory. There are various cases in which local civilians were buried and were labelled as foreign rebels by Indian authorities. The problems faced by these half widows is that in the absence of their bread winners, they are dependent on others and are facing social and economic insecurities.
Mostly, these half widows haven’t remarried, still they are waiting for their husbands to return back. The main concern of all these widows is to find their loved ones. Their routine is to move from one army camp to another and one police station to another. The disappearances have also lasting adverse effects on their Children. These children carry the pain of being fatherless. Many half widows often lie to their children about the father’s fate in order to protect them from stress disorders.