Feminist Perspectives from Jammu and Kashmir

Transcending Ethnic Differences

On the basis of a one-day meeting of 24 women from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh at a migrant camp in the Jammu region—as part of Conciliation Resources’ Women’s Project—the use of storytelling as a method of peace building has been investigated. It demonstrates how telling their stories has an impact on women’s psyche, allows them to transcend ethnic and religious differences, mitigates perceived differences, and paves the way for peace-building efforts.

Armed conflict affects both men and women, but their experiences differ significantly at times. Women have traditionally been excluded from war, which has been considered an almost exclusively male enterprise: fought by men, with and against other men, towards the achievement of male-defined purposes and ends. Traditional ideas about gender roles identify men with war and soldiering, and women with peace and mothering. Women remain largely absent from ethical and policy debates regarding when to go to war, how to fight a war, and whether resorting to war is morally justifiable. In fact, a number of assumptions about the relationship between men, women, and violent conflict, are common in peace building. For example, it is often said that women are the first and main victims of conflict, and are, at the same time, the most active advocates for peace. In fact, women form the highest proportion of adult civilian population killed and targeted for abuse during war, and also suffer physical, economic, and psychological abuse (AIUSA 2010: 2). Understanding the issues confronting women in a war zone or in conflict-like situations—which often prevail at the borders between hostile nations—is imperative in evolving strategies to prevent violence, promote justice and transform conflict into opportunities for the empowerment of women in these areas.

Despite sharing common roots, culture, and heritage, the relationship between Pakistan and India remains defined by psychological, ideological and territorial differences over the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which resulted into two major wars (1947–48 and 1965) and one limited war of Kargil in 1999. The third war between India and Pakistan was fought in 1971 which began in East Pakistan but later spread to the western border. As a result, India controls about 45% of the state area, Pakistan controls 35% and the rest (20%) is controlled by China. Jointly, Pakistan and China control 55% of the state area (Sangra 2010). The conflict remains unresolved.

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Updated On : 20th Aug, 2018

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