Human Rights Challenges for Women in Indian-Held Kashmir

Raising awareness on women in conflict is one small way to inform and invest in a community that is grappling with unspeakable and unthinkable acts of violence. For over a decade, I have interviewed Kashmiri men and women–some in the valley and others from afar–to understand their struggles and sacrifices. To the Kashmiri people, including famed writer Basharat Peer, the conflict has become the “the forever war”–a sign that the international community has abandoned the people living in one of the world’s most beautiful places.

However, not everyone is forgotten.

This summer, the United Nations in Geneva held a summit to honor and highlight the women in Indian-held Kashmir. Unable to travel at the time, the UN encouraged me to make a video describing my work.

The following text is a follow-up to the video presentation shown at the UN Human Rights Council Session 29 in Geneva.

INDIAN-KASHMIR WOMEN’S CHALLENGES FOR SECURITY RIGHTS AGAINST CONFLICT FOR PEACE IN KASHMIR

The women of Kashmir deserve to be heard. For decades, women survivors of war have been active participants in the conflict. They are protestors, peacemakers, and political activists.

In the forthcoming book, Secrets of the Valley, the women of the valley in Pakistan and Indian-held Kashmir overcome daily obstacles to living in a protracted conflict. Some march. They chant. They shout slogans of freedom, dressed in black or crayon colored clothing, with a message intended for state security services. Many join political and social organizations because they offer a sense of purpose and practical solutions for women trying to cope with an ongoing crisis.

In my journey to Kashmir, I have met with mothers of martyrs, wives of militants, and women living on the margins of society—their stories offer insight into the experiences and events that have shaped the valley since the creation of India and Pakistan as nation-states.

Undefeated, female protestors and political activists seek international attention and intervention to resolve a long-standing conflict that has affected women across the valley. Thus far, India and Pakistan have offered cosmetic solutions to the Kashmir crisis with minimal impact on the lives of women. Without a political and regional solution, the women (and men) of Kashmir will continue to demand change and greater control of the land they call home.

But writing the book was not enough for me.

For months, I have been working quietly with the female artisans of Kashmir—many are poor, widowed and alone—to create a fair trade and social activist enterprise called Inside Kashmir Gallery. The message is simple.

Screenshot 2015-06-26 13.03.10

My goal is to give economic freedom to thirty women across the valley so they can take care of themselves and their families.

To learn more about the book and how you can support the women of Kashmir, visit: www.farhanaqazi.com and www.insidekashmirgallery.com

book cover Kashmir - secrets of the valleyIKG logo with Paradise into your home

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