After flood threat, women victims of moral police

SRINAGAR: As the flood threat has subsided in the Valley, people are caught in a moral policing debate, blaming each other for invoking God’s wrath.

Bismah Malik

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, April 5

As the flood threat has subsided in the Valley, people are caught in a moral policing debate, blaming each other for invoking God’s wrath.

Women in particular have been made scapegoats with some men commenting in the marketplaces as well as social networking sites on the “western dressing sense” of women which, according to them, has angered God.

Valley girls who were at the receiving end during last year’s floods have been ruing that the misogyny in Kashmiri society becomes prevalent when the valley is struck by a calamity.

“The men here have not changed their psyche. Since last floods, it has become a routine behavior with men to blame everything on women including natural disasters. So, if women wear Jeans or their heads are not covered, it is looked down upon by men,” said Saba Khan (name changed), who  is a bank employee.

Munazah, a schoolteacher, said that an elderly man made abusive comments on her while she was travelling by public transport.

“As soon as I boarded the bus, he started telling men that women who wear western clothes have brought shame to society and that is why natural disasters are becoming so frequent. There is no shame in society. Look at how young women are dressing up,” she said while recalling the incident.

Shakir Ahmad, a businessman wrote on Twitter, “Let our daughters and sisters learn a lesson or two from such calamities. It is high time they stick to modest clothing and repent. Shamelessness will ruin us.”

Some, however, termed  the attack on women as highly unjustified. “We should do away with this mediaeval thinking that women are the harbingers of calamities. It is high time everybody introspects and stops indulging in blame game,” said Javaid Naikoo, a university student.

This time around, a few women have been vocal about this psychological exploitation and have urged girl students and working women to resist such oppressive  behaviour of men.

“Please stop blaming jeans and girls for floods.  It is the  failed drainage system, western disturbances which cause floods. If you want to judge people on the basis of morality then blame all those guys who consider girls to be commodities and all the corrupt officials,” posted a student of the Government College for Women, MA Road, on Facebook.

“Recently we conducted a study which inferred that the patriarchal mindset of the society has not changed and that women are by and large exploited both economically and psychologically,” said Ezabir Ali, a women’s rights activist.

Religious scholars have also batted for women this time saying that it is not women but the polluted environment which is responsible for floods.

“Men are more responsible for floods because they are polluting the environment, encroaching upon the rivers and valleys. There are some corrupt minds who want to indulge in false blame games and go on to misinterpret or malign religion. Islam tells us to respect women and not malign them,” said Zahid Ali, spokesperson of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a politico-social group.

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