“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

Domestic violence generally affects only women who are at the wrong end of the bargain

SWC Gets 20 Cases Daily: Shameema

Aliya Bashir (Kashmir Monitor)

Srinagar: With knowledge just a click away for the valley women to learn their rights, divorce and marital feuds are soaring as figures paint a very grim picture of post marital life of Kashmiri couples. Ironically, the women instead of getting justice end up with divorces. Importantly, every divorce ends up with split not just between husband a wife, but between two families and a never ending trouble for the child, if the couple has one.

As per the latest figures available with the government, the matrimonial cases pending disposal in various courts is 2448. Similarly, 4862 maintenance cases are pending disposal before various courts in the State, officials reveal.
At the same time, the figures available with State Women’s Commission (SWC), suggest that the domestic and post martial feuds cut across with both the lower income groups as well high profile people ending up with divorces.

“We have 1820 cases registered with the commission since last few years, 1333 were from the valley and 487 from Jammu. In the past two decades, the commission has managed to settle over 600 cases,” says Shameema Firdous, SWC chairperson.

Shameema says that on average the commission receives at least 20 cases a day. “No divorce is done in the commission. We try our best to persuade the couple to reconcile but due to the degrading social fabric, misunderstanding and money matters, it gets quite difficult to keep the social intact,” she says.Women cite different reasons for ending their marriages, from getting more exposure and knowing their rights to increasing domestic violence and extra-marital affairs.

“There is a growing trend in which not only the uneducated but educated women are filing petitions for dissolution of marriage which was something unheard before. At present, we have more than 7310 cases of domestic discord and maintenance disputes pending in courts in the whole state,” as per the statistics available at Lower Court, Srinagar.Experts in the field say that due to the increased awareness among women about their rights, it is easier for women to file for divorce than men. But socially, women still face a stigma for divorcing their husbands.

“There is an increase in 4 per cent compared to last five years and out of 100, 30 per cent are pleaded divorces by husbands,” says A K Hanjura, a renowned lawyer. “In most of the cases women are responsible for the trigger and husbands resort to the divorcees.” Due to the lack of any special court for speedy trials, lakhs of cases are already pending in various courts across the state.“Without emphasizing on what could be the consequences of the divorce, counsellors and lawyers don’t try to work more on reconciliation and then if things doesn’t work then to take it as last resort,” Hanjura adds.
Women’s rights advocates say that a rise in awareness among women has helped more and more women to come out of the cocoon and raise their voice against their sufferings.

“The increasing trend of working women has led to more public awareness about rights and not to accept the domination to fight for one’s right and to not accept the oppression,” says Shireen Jabeen, a women rights activist. “Women are not getting only ready to file divorce but also to combat with the traditionally attached social stigma.”
The huge influx of divorce cases are reported due the post-marital disputes, dowry, physical torture, harassment, torture of the in-laws and most importantly, misunderstanding over petty issues.“We suffer but still society wants us to be silent sufferers.

Those who opt for divorces are looked down. Only a women is to be blamed for failed marriages and her inability to handle the situation,” says Tahira Ismail, whose case is pending in lower court since long.Albeit, the legal filing process may be now easier for women but the psychologists say the impact of divorces is taking a heavy toll on the mental health of the couples as well as children.

“Whenever there is a feud between parents, a child becomes the causality,” says Asiya Nayeem, a senior counsellor with Kashmir Lifeline, a mental health helpline. “We receive many calls in which children suffer due to the rift between parents. Children have the right to be together with both of their parents and they are denied of this privilege due a divorce.”