SILENCE ISN’T GOLDEN HERE

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Silence isn’t golden here

Mareaya Fayaz

Are our regressive attitudes, silence and lack of deterrent punishment the reasons
behind the growing crime against women? We explore the question in the light of the recent case of a Budgam woman’s gruesome murder.

RECENTLY I went through an opinion piece in a newspaper wherein the writer, while
writing about the recent gruesome murder of a Budgam woman, made an observation that
crime in Kashmir was increasing due to the growing inflation and unemployment rates.
Well, this can be considered valid but if I were to look at the very hypothesis, I don’t think
this holds. In fact, such a statement is an insult to the victim killed in such a brutal manner
and to her relatives who have to live with that horrendous reality. This crime, in particular, is the result of the way most men in Kashmir have been raised to believe that women are
meant only for pleasure or for personal entitlement. First, if unemployment causes crimes against women, then let me remind that such crimes have always existed, with or without
unemployment eating into the system. It’s just that many times, such crimes against women never got reported. And even today, they go unreported. I know of this woman helper whose daughter is married to a PSO (Protective Service Officer) who continuously harasses his wife. In one past incident, the daughter’s arm was all bruised and she told her mother she had fallen from the stairs. But the helper’s grandson told her the truth that his father, in a fit of anger, had chased after his mother with a hammer and hit her. The woman helper cried while narrating this, adding that the daughter refused to report it because this was a love marriage! The woman believes that since the man who’s abusing her is the one she struggled to marry, she can’t report anything against him! This is one incident that I
personally know of but I can’t even imagine how many women are abused like this
endlessly. The question is – is unemployment responsible for this? No! Remember the acid
attack victim whose life got ruined because she refused the proposal of a young man or the
girl who was run over by a man for the same reason? And what of so many young girls who
are sexually or physically abused by family members or relatives at some point in life.
And look at this incident at Budgam – just because she refused the man’s proposal! All
this proves again and again that unless men like these are given a deterrent punishment,
such crimes will keep happening. And unless our society accepts the follies of such men and stops blaming women for speaking up and leaving abusive partners, this is not going to
change. A few years back, I remember that an intimate video of a boy and a girl from Budgam was circulated all over the internet. Later the police came into action and the video was deleted from the internet and the guy who released it was arrested by the police. The investigation confirmed that the boy and the girl in the video were a couple and when the girl broke off with him, he threatened that he will leak the video and he did exactly that. Whatever was shown in the video was between two consenting individuals; yet the blame was poured over the girl and her parents. While in such cases, people conveniently forget the role of the boy but it is the girl and her parents who have to endure criticism for a long time. This mindset too aids men to commit shameless crimes against women.

I have a friend, who was continuously threatened by an ex boyfriend after she got
engaged. The men in our society do such things without any remorse or fear of punishment. The internet hasn’t helped women in this regard either. I have seen too
many male influencers making silly videos stereotyping women on how they talk, walk,
laugh, dress up etc. Many men go on the internet making misogynist videos, without
thinking of the consequences it can have. And any woman influencer who counters such
things or just speaks up, is shut down by bad comments, even abusive at many times. A
woman influencer from Kashmir, on condition of anonymity, says it really gets depressing
sometimes to watch people treat her as if she were doing something so wrong that she ought to be punished. Another observation that I made through these past years is that when a non-local is involved in a crime, it gets blown out of proportion and everyone becomes a judge on the internet but when a local person is involved in a crime, we tend to justify it in a number of ways.

Simran, a lawyer, explains: “I don’t think that men who commit such brutal crimes against
women become monsters overnight; they already had the tendencies and our society,
while boosting their male ego, gave them a feeling that no law can touch them. And when
something as small as a woman’s rejection hits them or something rattles their ego even a
wee-bit, they go to the extent of even killing someone without blinking an eye”.

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