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Kashmiri woman activist slams ‘freedom movement’ at Geneva

Jammu/Geneva, March 7 (IANS) A young Kashmiri woman activist, Syed Tehmeena, has slammed militancy in Kashmir at an international forum in Geneva, arguing that it oppressed and deprived women of their rights in the Valley.

Tehmeena, while speaking at Geneva Press Club on a discussion on ‘Jammu and Kashmir: Sifting Facts from Fiction’, on the sidelines of 43rd session of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), said Kashmiri women had been “victims of social practices and militancy in the state.”

Terrorism, she said, “snatched their rights,” adding women were deprived of education, faced domestic violence, a declining sex ratio and exclusion from politics.

The rural parts of J&K, she said, are “steeped in feudal and medieval outlook, refusing to grant women equal say in the matters of their education, marriage, dress code, profession and social interactions to some extent.”

“Not only me but many young boys and girls have left the valley and settled in other parts of the country because the terrorist ideology has curtailed opportunities. Moreover, the ideology of freedom movement does not stand for the freedom of women,” she said.

In recent years, she recalled, extremist groups have shaped Kashmir’s image of radicalization. “Their message of intolerance has drastic consequences for J&K,” she warned, adding radicalization had worsened due to the availability of weapons (infiltrated from Pakistan).

Radicalization, Tehmeena said, has a deep impact on Kashmiri society which can further lead to less socio-economic development of the state. “The tentacles of radicalization have struck deep roots in Kashmir. There is a need to take a comprehensive approach which encompasses preventive measures,” she said.

The activist said that youth should have a constructive contribution to political and economic development of Kashmiri society. “India’s diversity has ensured its colorful fabric and it should reflect in every state. Mixed home allotments should be given and mixed spaces should be developed from different religions,” she said, hoping that women empowerment is extended to rural and backward areas of J&K.

The event was attended by several activists and journalists from Indian Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), European parliamentarians and foreign experts.

–IANS

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