By: Sameer Lone
Srinagar: The mysterious death of a Rajouri woman Seema Dev has once again brought under focus the increasing cases of domestic violence against women in Jammu and Kashmir.
Devi was found hanging at her house in Nowshera area of Rajouri district. Her husband has been arrested on the charges of abetment to suicide in the mysterious death.
“During the investigation it was found that her husband had created hard circumstances for the deceased due to which she took this extreme step,” said a senior police officer.
Domestic violence refers to any abuse including physical, emotional, sexual, or financial between intimate partners, often living in the same household.
Last year, a 32-year-old woman ended her life at her in-laws’ house in south Kashmir’s Anantnag. In a video recorded before her death, the woman had accused her in-laws of assaulting her and setting her ablaze. The couple already had a case in a court.
Similarly, in October last year, a 21-year-old woman was abducted by two men from a marriage ceremony in southern Kulgam district. She was taken to the nearby dense orchards where she was raped and then brutally murdered.
A few days after the death of this woman, another similar crime was reported from the same district, in which a 17-year-old girl was raped and the video recorded, then shared by the accused on social media platforms.
The violence against women has seen a sharp rise amid the Muslim society in Kashmir in recent years. In many cases, women have been ruthlessly murdered by immediate family members.
According to National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted by the Union Ministry of Health, the domestic violence against women in Jammu and Kashmir has shocking figures. 9.6% of women in the age group 18-49 experienced domestic violence in 2019-20.
It further reveals that domestic abuse and sexual harassment is more widespread in rural areas of J&K as compared to urban areas.
Reportedly, 352 rape cases were registered in J&K in 2014, the numbers dropped to 312, 263, and 314 in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively before again rising to 359 in 2018.
In absence of the State Women Commission which was abolished after J&K was bifurcated into two Union Territories, there has been a steep rise in domestic violence cases and no proper institution to take cognisance of these cases.
According to a worldwide analysis published in The Lancet, over one in four women (or 27 per cent) experience intimate partner violence before the age of 50.
The study, involving more than 2 million women from 161 countries, and led by researchers from McGill University and the World Health Organization (WHO), showed that one in seven women (or 13 per cent) experienced intimate partner violence.
The analysis also found high levels of violence against young women, estimating that 24 per cent of those between the ages of 15 to 19 experienced domestic violence in their lifetime.
While the numbers are alarming, the true scale of violence is likely even higher, said researchers from McGill University and the WHO, noting that the studies were based on self-reported experiences.