If the virus doesn’t kill you then the artillery shells in Kashmir valley will. People here are braving a two front war. In the recent months, cross-border shelling between Pakistan and India has intensified along the Line of Control in Kashmir, making people to take refuge in community bunkers
The NYT report said, “But some families will be leaving girls and young women behind in their vulnerable homes – choosing to risk the falling shells rather than the sexual assault that is epidemic in the cramped bunkers.”
Women from poor background are facing sexual assault in these cramped bunkers. In the dark, men from affluent families, who own the bunkers start to grope the women. Poor families can’t build their bunker so, they have to rely on their neighbors for shelter, making them easy prey for sexual predators.
In the Pakistani-controlled Kashmir “sexual violence often goes unreported as victims risk being cast out by their parents, are forced to marry their rapists or are killed over the perceived injury to their families’ honor.”
According to Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, 45 attacks on the Pakistani side of Kashmir have resulted in nine deaths and 60 injuries.
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Ayesha, a 13 year old girl was raped in the bunker by a man twice her age. She told her mother, Nasreen about the man touching her but didn’t mention about the rape. Ayesha was threatened by her rapist with a dagger to not tell anyone. Ayesha was raped several times. Some days later she started crying in fear and told Nasreen, a mother of five children living alone. But when the family pleaded for justice their village decided otherwise. A community gathering decided that Ayesha should be married to her rapist to save what remained of her honor.
The NYT reported, “A few months later, Ayesha died during labor, her body unable to handle the birth and doctors unable to stop her from hemorrhaging to death. Her son, born premature, died a few months later.”
Many women in the Kashmir valley are facing the same fate that Ayesha was met with.
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