FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Women’a activism in conflict zones
Updated:Aug 7, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Nyla Ali Khan 
 
Ethnographer Sharon Pickering, in her study of women in Northern Ireland, theorizes that historically, political analysts and social scientists have not considered the experiences of those coerced and tortured by state violence as relevant to their studies (Pickering 2001: 490). But the unflinching courage of several marginalised women in Jammu and Kashmir in their fight for justice symbolises the self-actualisation and intervention of Kashmiri women in patriarchal national history by speaking from their locations about the current political realities.
 
In order to further my research in June 2009, I asked the Director of the Psychiatric Diseases Hospital, Dr Margoob to allow me to sit in on a couple of his sessions with militancy related trauma patients. Dr Margoob was magnanimous enough to give me the permission to observe some of these patients carefully. It was heart wrenching to see despondent women with hopelessness entrenched in their atrophied looks and minds. Orphaned, widowed, improvident; socially marginalised and left to their own devices; unsought by those with the means to help; each sigh bespoke a grief that knew no bounds and had no hope of respite. These repositories of communal values and cultural traditions were unable to find a support system in a community that had experienced the trauma of state-formation at its expense.
 
The political turbulence in J&K has taken its toll on such people and has left them stone faced with a stoicism that expects no recompense. Does the state give any thought to the economic and emotional rehabilitation of such people? Dr Margoob lends a sympathetic ear to his patients; provides them with fatherly care; boosts their morale; is quick to provide them with the necessary medical care; and is doing groundbreaking work in a culture in which people don’t mention psychiatric ills without fear of being stigmatised. It was enlightening to see young men and women seeking psychiatric care of their own volition.
 
I was pleasantly surprised to see a peasant from a rural area take his grandson to the child psychologist and beseech his grandson to conceal nothing from the psychologist. But we still have a long way to go in recognising the dire consequences of trauma brought on by political turmoil, military brutality, and fear psychosis created by such happenings. There are people who do not have recourse to the judicial and administrative machinery. Prabal Mahato found in an independent survey of the Psychiatric Diseases Hospital in Srinagar, conducted in July-August 1999, that Post-traumatic stress disorders increased in 1,700 in 1990 to 17,000 in 1993 and to 30, 000 in 1998 (1999). It is unfortunate that the more unaccountable state-sponsored agencies have become in J&K, the more aloof and gluttonous the bureaucratic, military, and administrative machinery has become. The culture of impunity has grown around India and Pakistan like nobody’s business. Women and children are in a miserable plight because of the lack of not just physical infrastructure but deficit in gynaecological, obstetric, welfare, and economically rehabilitative services as well.
 
I met three women patients of Dr Margoob who were traumatised after the loss of their male heads of the households. Two of the women had been widowed and the third orphaned because of the frenetic violence at the apex of insurgency and counter-insurgency in J & K. Their counselling sessions with Dr Margoob were enabling them to redefine their life experiences as contributing to the depression and suicidal ideation in their adult lives; work through the discourse of victimhood was developing into the construction of their identities as survivors; working toward accepting their life circumstances and tentatively attempting to redefine them within clear conceptual frameworks (See Susan Warner and Kathryn M. Feltey, “Recovered Memories and Identity Transformation” in “From Victim to Survivor: Recovered Memories and Identity Transformation”, in Trauma and Memory, edited by Linda M. Williams and Victoria L. Banyard, 1999: 161-174, for details about traumatised women and identity reconstruction). Do such patients have access to a community perspective, or a reference group, or avenues for rehabilitation? (Shibutani 1961).
 
Kashmiri society needs to recognise the terror caused by such predatory discourses that swoop down on the vulnerable, devouring their ideological and experiential strengths. The retrieval of the strength that nurtured the rich experiential content of the teachings of mystic poet Lalla-Ded, the conviction of the women volunteers of Women’s Self-Defence Corps, the vision of women activists who were harbingers of change in the socio-political and cultural realms, would facilitate the recomposition of women’s roles in the significant process of nation-building.
 
I would emphasise that the articulation of the fervent patriotism of Kashmiri women,which manifested itself in their emboldened presence in 1931, 1947, 1950, and 1975 until the dawn of insurgency and counter-insurgency in 1989-90, requires research that gives as much credence to the path-paving work of women within religious, familial and communal frameworks as to the work of those women who deconstructed established frameworks in order to lead subaltern movements; motivate minority education as opposed to state-controlled education; and recognise culture and history as sites of struggle.
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has confirmed his presence for the occasion. In an exclusive interview with INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS, Indonesia’s Ambassador to India, Sidharto R.Suryodipuro, reminded Nilova Roy Chaudhury that the first Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day celebrations, in 1950, w
 
read-more
The words of Ho Chi Minh  “Nothing is more precious than independence and liberty” rang true for the people of the erstwhile East Pakistan when, with increasing brutality, the West Pakistani oppression spread across the land, writes Anwar A Khan from Dhaka
 
read-more
In a significant boost to New Delhi's Act East Policy, India and Japan set up the Act East Forum on Tuesday as agreed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to India this year for the annual bilateral meeting that would help to focus and catalyse development in India's Northeast.
 
read-more
  United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated on Friday Washington's warning that “all options are on the table” to meet North Korea's nuclear threat while offering to keep the lines of communication with Pyongyang open.
 
read-more
The 15th trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China concluded in New Delhi on Monday with many nuanced takeaways embedded in the joint statement of 46 paragraphs. Reiterating that the forum “is not directed against any other country”, the statement underlined the importance of the establishment o
 
read-more
The first thing that one sees when a flight approaches New Delhi is thick smog that envelopes the city and its lack of greenery.  In almost all other major cities of India lack of greenery is the most obvious sight that one sees when approaching it by air.
 
read-more

Pakistan has agreed to allow the rupee to depreciate after holding talks with the International Mone­tary Fund (IMF) on the country's economy.

 
read-more

Two major global changes in the past year; the ‘Brexit’ referendum and the advent of Donald Trump, writes Sandeep Kaur Bhatia

 
read-more

It is also imperative for India to explore other regions for markets. Its trade deficit with Latin America has been narrowing. Also, its trade with Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala has increased, ...

 
read-more
Column-image

Over the last 25 years, India's explosive economic growth has vaulted it into the ranks of the world's emerging major powers. Long plagued by endemic poverty, until the 1990s the Indian economy was also hamstrung by a burdensome regulat...

 
Column-image

Title: A Ticket to Syria; Author: Shirish Thorat; Publisher: Bloomsbury India: Pages: 254; Price: Rs 399

 
Column-image

Gorichen, a majestic peak in the Eastern Himalayas at an altitude of 22,500 feet, is the highest in Arunachal Pradesh. Beautiful to look at and providing a fantastic view from the top, it is extremely tough climb for mountaineers.

 
Column-image

It is often conjectured if the reason for long-standing conflicts and insurgencies, in the developing world, especially South Asia, is not only other powers fishing in troubled waters but also the keenness of arms industries, mostly Western, to...

 
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699