Surge in misogyny on social media as Indian men 'look' for Kashmiri women for marriage; women's right activist decry objectification

Many women and women's rights activists condemned the online comments welcoming the abrogation for making it 'easier for Indian men to marry Kashmiri women'. Supporters of Narendra Modi-led BJP had flooded social media with jubilant posts after the change.

Reuters August 09, 2019 11:11:59 IST
Surge in misogyny on social media as Indian men 'look' for Kashmiri women for marriage; women's right activist decry objectification
  • Until this week, residents of the disputed region, whose majority population is Muslim, had exclusive rights to property and state government jobs

  • But the latest constitutional changes in jammu and Kashmir with the abrogation of Article 370 have put the residents and people from other states on equal legal footing

  • However, the comments on social media following the passage of the new bill saw a surge in misogynistic posts which reek of objectification

Reuters: Women’s rights advocates have slammed a torrent of online posts by men from across India who expressed enthusiasm about marrying women from Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 — which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir, made it more appealing to do so.

Until this week, residents of the disputed region, whose majority population is Muslim, had exclusive rights to property and state government jobs, among other privileges, though women marrying non-residents stood to lose those benefits.

But the latest constitutional changes on Tuesday with the Parliament approving a resolution abrogating the special status have put the residents and people from other states on equal legal footing.

However, the comments on social media following the passage of the new bill saw a surge in misogynistic posts which reek of objectification. for some Indian men the new law offered a bizzare sense of entitlement, probably gauging they are at the liberty to do anything that is Kashmiri, be it plot/house/property or women.

Surge in misogyny on social media as Indian men look for Kashmiri women for marriage womens right activist decry objectification

Representational image. Reuters

Many women and women's rights activists condemned the online comments welcoming the abrogation for making it "easier for Indian men to marry Kashmiri women".

"It’s deeply sexist," said Rituparna Chatterjee, an independent journalist and activist who runs the Twitter handle @indiametoo that spotlights the stories of survivors of sexual harassment.

"Women’s bodies have been battlegrounds for men for centuries. The latest comments on Kashmiri women are only testimony to this fact," said Chatterjee.

Supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) had flooded social media with jubilant posts after the change.

And many men among them took to Twitter and the video platform Tiktok to claim that it eased the way to marry Kashmiris.

"Congrats India, now unmarried boys can marry these smart girls from Kashmir after 370 removal," said one Twitter user, referring to the constitutional provision.

Another said, "Every Indian boy’s dream right now: 1. Plot in Kashmir 2. Job in Kashmir 3. Marriage with Kashmiri girl."

On Wednesday, lending voices and perhaps escalating the matter of ridicule was BJP lawmaker Vikram Saini, who was seen urging party workers to marry "Kashmiri girls" in a video clip.

"We can get the bachelors among our party workers married there now, there is no problem," Saini added.

He further said: "Our Muslim party workers should be happy, now they can go and marry fair-skinned Kashmiri girls."

When contacted on Thursday, Saini told Reuters he had said nothing wrong and meant no disrespect to women, adding, "If I said something jovially, it should not be taken in a bad light."

Mihira Sood, a Supreme Court lawyer in New Delhi who specialises in gender issues, decried the objectification of women.

"It’s one thing if someone thinks that Article 370 should have gone, but a whole another to be chest-beating about it," she said, adding, "Kashmiri women are not spoils of war. They are human beings with agency and the right to consent or not."

Many internet articles extol Kashmiri women, and men, emphasising the fair colour of their skin. Google Trends data have shown surge in searches for "Kashmiri girl" since 5 August.

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