Srinagar: The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Friday held a public hearing in Srinagar for the first time since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A and subsequent downgrading of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories on August 5, 2019.
In her maiden visit to the region, Rekha Sharma, chairperson of NCW, heard over a dozen cases related to women’s issues, including cases of domestic violence at the summer capital’s Banquet Hall. The hearing will continue for three days.
“I thought there was no dowry related problem in Kashmir but there is a lot which is why there is rise in domestic violence,” she said.
This is for the first time that the women rights body is hearing cases from the region after all rights commissions, including Jammu and Kashmir Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and the State Commission for Protection of Women and Child Rights, were abolished as per the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019.
Earlier, NCW could not take cases directly from the region and such cases were heard only by the state commission. At the state’s women commission, which was formed in 1999, over 270 such cases involving nearly 250 women were pending at the time of its closure. The fate of these cases, however, remains uncertain.
“NCW did not have any data so far, as Kashmir region has come under NCW only after the abrogation of Article 370. Since then, we received a few cases that too from Jammu region,” Sharma said.
The NCW chairperson added that people in Kashmir region are still unaware of the national commission and that her visit is aimed to bring awareness about the NCW.
“I am hoping that people can reach out to me directly now. There is a lot of social pressure of women in Kashmir as they are married at a young age. They are not provided with education or skill,” she pointed-out.
The women’s body claimed there is a need to change the mindset which forces women to accept violence perpetrated against them in marriage, something, Sharma said, is not unique to Kashmir but, exists across the country.
“The cases of domestic violence are high across India according to the NCW data that I have. I am hearing them for the first time here. They may be different because of different situation,” Sharma said.
Many believe that cases of violence against women remain under-reported in Kashmir region, mired in war for the last three decades. Even as there have been scores of incidents of violence against women perpetrated by armed forces, justice has seldom been delivered in such cases, according to several rights bodies. In the wake of heightened violence, gender-based abuse often, many claim, also remains unreported.