“Our men ... seem to be worried about the ‘social fabric’ ... societal patriarchy has been violent, detrimental."
Indian Occupied Kashmir is witnessing immense protests for the third consecutive day against the rape of a three-year-old infant. Kashmiri feminists are coming forward, criticizing the patriarchal society for this incident while the general public remains in a state of “shock."
The girl was lured by a neighbor to a school bathroom where the accused allegedly raped the child in the Bandipora district of Kashmir.
Police had arrested the suspect in a village and a fast-track inquiry is underway, according to a local administrator Baseer Khan. The girl was in critical condition and hospitalized on May 8. Her condition has since stabilized but she is still unable to walk properly and is afraid to go to the bathroom.
“The doctors told us to keep her away from crowds or crowded places, but also not to leave her alone,” Shair Ali Dar, the father said. “We noticed she was getting nervous with a lot of people around.”
Soon after the news spread, protests erupted Sunday and spread to new areas Monday after the family of the accused provided a fake birth certificate of the man claiming he is 13-years-old — an attempt to save him from the maximum sentence.
Indian forces threw teargas at protesters drawing ire from Kashmiris who criticized the forces for not differentiating between anti-India and anti-rape protests.
Schools and businesses shut across the valley.
While most people expressed “shock” over this incident, Kashmiri feminists are saying that this rape case is not an isolated incident and a result of a misogynistic society which has hidden sexual harassment under rugs for far too long.
“Our men have wronged us for too long. They seem to be worried about the ‘social fabric,’ confused about ‘how have we reached here,’” Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Network wrote in a statement.
“A response of this nature assumes there is an untainted moral fiber to begin with and this incident is one of its kind. However, it does not address the real problem — the fact that there is no rich social fabric and that societal patriarchy has been violent, detrimental and actively curbing the voices of Kashmiri women.”
Another feminist activist and student from Kashmir, Misbah Haqani wrote that people are worried about Social fabric and “Kashmiris are failing to figure out what went wrong in Kashmir as the Kashmiri culture and Kashmiriyat never has seen rapes or violence against women. To these people I want to say ... this always happened in Kashmir but you never heard it.”
Kashmir Women’s Collective, an organization known for its work on domestic violence against women, wrote in a statement that in Kashmir, there is no support for victims on the ground and demanded the establishment of rape crisis centers and sensitization drive.
“In addition preventive measures, support services for rape survivors and gender and sex education is need of the hour. We request the governor to start a full fledged rape crisis centre, build a shelter home for women … It is a policy issue. It is a societal issue. It is a feminist issue and an issue of the humanity,” the organization said.