ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Dimensions of Sexual Violence and Patriarchy in a Militarised State

Enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, and sexual violence have characterised Indian military operations in Kashmir. Of these, sexual violence has been used widely to “break” individuals and communities, and as a tool for punishing resistance against violence by the Indian state. The discourse around sexual violence, however, has always revolved around women with very little focus on men and transgender persons, given the patriarchal understanding of sexual violence and power relations. A critical part of this discussion is also looking at how the patriarchal structure of the society acts as a facilitator for the effective use of sexual violence as a tool against the people. The sexual violence that is propagated and implemented by a masculine patriarchal state can be resisted well with a deeper understanding of gender dynamics.

Kashmir’s armed struggle has been a matter of serious concern for the Indian state that has been claiming Kashmir as its own “integral part” contrary to the political aspiration of many Kashmiris. The embarrassment caused to the world’s “largest democracy” by the movement for self-determination and the resistance to military occupation by the people of Kashmir has been retaliated with extreme violence and gross human rights violations. In different cycles of both armed and civilian resistance, hundreds have been injured, killed and maimed as a result of direct physical violence perpetrated by the Indian state and there has been absolute impunity for these crimes (Human Rights Watch Report 1993a). People across divides of age, religion and gender have protested against the away occupation in Kashmir. While researching and writing about the human rights violations in this region that are widely believed to be the result of military occupation and army operations against armed rebellion, the wide use of sexual violence by the armed forces—that remain protected by the guarantee of legal immunity under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958—cannot be overlooked.

Sexual violence has effectively been used as a weapon to crush resistance and break the morale of people across the world in conflict zones. In Kashmir also sexual violence has been used as an important part of strategy for crushing support to the popular armed rebellion in Kashmir. The families of militants, mostly women, have been attacked but the families of non-combatants and civilians have been victims and survivors of this violence too. It is usually incorrectly assumed that sexual violence is used against only women. Men have equally been victims of a sexualised form of violence. However, the motive behind perpetrating sexual violence against men is distinct from sexual violence against women (Kazi 2008).

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Updated On : 8th Dec, 2018
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