Kashmir has the highest percentage 11.6 of sexual violence in comparison to other conflict areas across the globe, a sample survey by an international humanitarian organisation, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), has revealed in its latest report.
The report titled “Kashmir: Violence and Mental Health” said that its respondents in two medical blocks — Kralpora in north-western Kashmir district of Kupwara and Beerwah in central Kashmir district of Budgam — reported “suffering direct violations of their modesty and/or witnessing such acts since 1989.”
The survey said: “A rather high percentage of respondents (11.6 per cent) in comparison to other conflict areas said they know of terror-related rape incidents since 1989. Of them, more than one in 10 were raped in the past three months.” The 30-page survey compiled in November and released on December 21 noted: “It is possible that the actual prevalence is higher as many people regard it a taboo to talk about sex-related issues.” The survey was, however, silent on which of the two “warring parties” (militants and Indian army) are more responsible for committing this kind of violence.
J&K Health and Medical Education Secretary, KB Jandial, when asked to comment, said: “Though I have not seen the report, the fact is that it is a normal practice that whenever security forces are allegedly involved in any wrongdoing, the matters are reported and the people protest. Since these rape cases were not reported, they appear to have been committed by militants. The people are afraid to speak against militants,” Jandial said.
The MSF that had started its psycho-social programme in August 2000 drew comparisons with other conflict-hit areas. “The study found that much higher number of people experienced sexual violence in J&K compared to findings in other areas: Sierra Leone (2 per cent), Sri Lanka (2 per cent), Chechnya (0 per cent) and Ingushetia (0.1 per cent).”
Email Arun Joshi: firstname.lastname@example.org