J&K women become role models, their counterparts in PoK, China struggle to survive

Srinagar/New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) Success stories of J&K women folk have inspired fairer sex across the globe to follow their footsteps and chase their dreams. The females in Jammu and Kashmir are proving their mettle in every field and are leading from the front. They don’t want to look back as they are out to conquer the world.
The women empowerment in the Himalayan region gained impetus after August 5, 2019 when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories. Since then women have grabbed all the opportunities that have come in their way. By dint of their hard work and determination they have proved their critics wrong. During the past two years as many as 4.5 lakh women have been made financially independent in the Himalayan region through Self Help Groups initiative. For the first time in 70 years, J&K Police reserved a 15 per cent quota for women in non-gazetted cadre. The countless women empowerment schemes have changed their perception towards life.
Last month a 15-year old girl, Sadia Tariq, from Srinagar’s Bemina area in J&K made India proud by getting a gold medal in the final bout of the Moscow Wushu Stars Championship held in Russia.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was the first one to felicitate her. “Congratulations to Sadia Tariq on winning the Gold medal at the Moscow Wushu Stars Championship. Her success will inspire many budding athletes. Wishing her the very best for her future endeavours,” PM Modi wrote on Twitter.
An international water sports coach, Bilquis Mir, who has participated in several national and international competitions, was recently appointed as a judge for the upcoming 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. She is the only Indian selected for this honour at the Games.
Women in Jammu and Kashmir are a force to reckon with and have proven that they are no less than men. In the recently announced results of class 10 and 12 conducted by Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE), girls outshined boys by securing better ranks and percentages.
J&K women have broken all the barriers. They are doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, sports stars, lawyers, bankers, pilots, administrators and what not. For J&K women sky is the limit.
Saga of PoK women
On the other hand, the women in Pakistan occupied Kashmir have no success story to narrate. Females on the other side of the Line of Control (LoC) are treated as tools having no rights. Situation in PoK areas is dismal where local women have been left at the mercy of Pakistani soldiers and the terrorists.
Pakistan with its colonial approach has reduced the women of PoK into disenfranchised subjects. Obsession of Pakistani rulers with Kashmir has turned PoK in to a breeding ground for terrorists, who look at the women as their slaves and exploit them sexually. In absence of proper mechanism for justice and terrorists enjoying patronage of Pakistan Army, many cases of sexual exploitation in PoK go unreported.
Anam Zakaria in her feature in a leading Pakistan daily, the Dawn, narrated the tale of a PoK woman Nasreen who had taken her children to find safety in a bunker during shelling from the Indian side.
Quoting Nasreen, Zakaria wrote that an older man raped her 13 year old daughter, Ayesha on gunpoint and had threatened to kill her for speaking up. Few months later, Ayesha got pregnant and the council decided to marry Ayesha to the rapist to save her honour. Unable to handle the pain of giving birth at such a tender age, Ayesha hemorrhaged to death in labour. Her child also died a few months later.
Zakaria while narrating the incident of another gang rape victim, Mahira Tahira of Bhimber in PoK wrote that life threats didn’t stop Tahira from exposing rapists who found shelter among government ministers and military officials.
The victim during a press conference in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad had told reporters that rapists videotaped the vile incident to extort money, and when she refused, they kidnapped her along with her child. She alleged that the same gang set ablaze another rape victim to death for speaking up. Tahira had accused the Police and judiciary of shielding the accused.
Tahira had said that during a conversation in the court chamber, the Chief Justice had told her, “You are already married, not a virgin. You should not mind rape. Please drop the case.”
Pak rulers leave them in lurch
After occupying PoK illegally in 1947, Pakistani rulers have not done anything to empower the women in the region. They have been left to fend on their own.
Not many women in PoK are educated as they don’t get a chance to go to schools and colleges. There are no schemes for women empowerment in PoK, nor are they provided any reservation in jobs. Their only role is to act as second fiddles to men and face all the atrocities without uttering a word.
According to a survey carried out by a UN agency, over a third of women in remote areas of PoK are facing a serious problem of malnutrition.
The World Food Programme funded surveys in four districts along the LoC — Muzaffarabad, Haweli, Hattian Bala and Neelam Valley — revealed that 38 per cent women were “malnourished.”
Chinese women
Even in China life is not easy for Muslim women. The women whose husbands have been detained in Chinese internment camps are reportedly being forced to share beds with male government officials assigned to monitor them in their homes.
According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), Communist party workers regularly sleep alongside members of persecuted Uighur minority families during surveillance visits that last up to a week.
The monitoring forms part of the systematic repression of Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang region, where experts and human rights groups believe more than a million Uighurs – most of them men – have been arbitrarily detained in secretive re-education camps.
Muslim Chinese women who have left the country in search of freedom are of the opinion that females from their community don’t enjoy equality at par with men and a “progressive country” like China has nothing to offer to Muslim women.
Not only Muslim women, other Chinese women for the past many years have been fighting for gender equality. Various restrictions like income discrepancies and traditional gender roles in the country have kept females inferior as compared with their male counterparts. The women who go on maternity leave lose their pay during that period. From occupational rights to issues such as property rights, men in China have always been the more supported gender for years.
Women in China face a lot of difficulties at workplaces. This has led to many women to surrender to traditional gender roles. Like staying at home, not working and being dependent on the male of the house.
In 2015, the day before International Women’s Day, five feminist activists were arrested and jailed for 37 days. They were just five of an even larger movement of activists fighting against the traditional gender role ideology that has placed females below males.
Visible difference
There is a visible difference between the rights enjoyed by women in Jammu and Kashmir and their counterparts in PoK and China. The J&K women are scaling new heights. The government is helping them to excel in lives and has provided them with the wings to fly. Their rights are protected, their safety and security is ensured. On the other hand women in PoK have no rights and are exploited in one or the other way. No one had even thought about empowering the females across the LoC.
China despite being one of the most developed countries treats Muslim women as second grade citizens. On one hand their right to privacy is being snatched, while on other no opportunities are being provided to them to do something constructive in their lives.
In J&K, International Women’s Day is celebrated with enthusiasm as the successful women share their stories and encourage others to follow their footsteps. But in PoK many women are not even aware about any day that’s celebrated across the world to reassure the women about their rights.

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