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Kashmiri women’s suffering

It seems that while our country is trapped in a myriad of problems in all corners, we have forgotten about the women of Kashmir and the problems they have faced as a result of Indian repression. Unfortunately, in the war-trodden region, women are now experiencing extra hardships due to the stress and after-effects of war and infertility as well as stress due to cultural pressure. The Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science, based in Srinagar, conducted a study finding that of 112 young and adolescent women who suffered from polycystic ovarian syndrome — a condition that can cause infertility along with a host of other reproductive symptoms — roughly 65 to 70 per cent of them suffered from psychiatric illnesses such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. These women who were once forced to face war should not be neglected and the state of Jammu and Kashmir is requested to provide them the necessary psychological and medical support, such as counselling and fertility treatments.

Perhaps, the major source of psychological trauma is caused by a woman’s own family. Whether it is pressure from in-laws or a husband for not being able to bear a child or from the girl’s own parents due to their fear of the stigma surrounding childlessness, the aspect of family-induced stress is truly shameful. As if medical stressors are not enough, we spin unnecessary cultural stressors on our women. In a vicious cycle, this stress only contributes to the women’s overall health. These issues are very real and certainly have physiological effects — they are not merely ‘in one’s head’ as some ignorant people in our country might believe.

The state is requested to take care of not only the women of Indian Kashmir, but also men and children who suffer from the psychological effects of warfare and other traumatic events in the region. Perhaps what is needed is a broader dialogue on mental health as Kashmiri men, women and children continue to face daily trauma in the face of several hundred thousand Indian soldiers deployed in the Valley.

The Express Tribune

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